Apple buys GPS start-up to take step in the right direction

18 May 2015

Image of Apple Maps app via Connor McKenna

To better improve its Maps app, Apple has quietly bought and integrated Coherent Navigation, a start-up that develops technology for better GPS accuracy.

It’s fair to say that compared with some of the big hitters of the mapping software players – most notably Google Maps and HERE maps – Apple Maps is far behind.

This is especially true given that when it first launched, replacing Google Maps as the default mapping service on iPhones, it proved so disastrous that Apple were forced to re-introduce the ability to download Google Maps due to numerous inaccuracies and navigation issues with Apple Maps.

According to Mac Rumours, Coherent Navigation was set up back in 2008 by a team of researchers from Stanford and Cornell universities and has been working on something called ‘high integrity GPS’, or iGPS for short.

By combining traditional satellite GPS signals with low-Earth satellites provided by Iridium, a provider of data and voice, which according to its developers could be as accurate as being able to pinpoint your location down to a few centimetres.

The discovery was made after a number of Coherent Navigation’s employees began appearing on Apple’s payroll, including its CEO Paul Lego with the company’s website being transferred to Apple’s servers.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple’s statement on the matter.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic