Apple on the road to better maps following Mapsense purchase

17 Sep 2015

Mapsense, a mapping data analytics start-up, has been snapped up by Apple, a reflection of the high demand for data visualisation (datavis) services among major corporations.

Despite its best efforts, Apple continues to play catch up to Google in terms of its mapping software, but by acquiring Mapsense it is now aiming to get the edge over Google in terms of taking those maps and turning them into data mines using all our devices.

According to Re/code, a number of sources confirmed that the two-year-old start-up was purchased earlier this month, with suggestions that the deal was worth somewhere in the region of between US$25m and US$30m.

The company’s software was built using maps obtained through the OpenStreetMap project that offers open source mapping tools to developers, which led to the creation of map apps like MapsWithMe.

Using this, Mapsense then creates datavis maps that turn raw data into trends and locations and puts them into a visible and digestible form, with the company only launching its developer platform back in May.

This purchase joins a series of other noticeable mapping software companies purchased by Apple over the past two years, the most recent being the GPS location service Coherent Navigation.

Apple also purchased HopStop back in 2013, which uses crowdsourced information to help people navigate public transport times, which Apple has given a major upgrade as part of its recently launched iOS 9 update.

When asked for comment on the acquisition, Apple gave the standard line of: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Compass image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic