Apple moves to end mapping woes with acquisition of Embark

23 Aug 2013

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Apple is understood to have acquired navigation company Embark as part of its ongoing efforts to resolve issues with its Maps app that debuted last year on iOS 6.

The California tech giant has been striving to find a route out of the Maps debacle of last year. As well as recruiting ex-Google workers, the company has been making a number of acquisitions, including that of Toronto-based business mapping start-up Locationary for an undisclosed sum.

Earlier this year, Apple purchased location-identifying technology player WifiSLAM and last month Apple also agreed to buy online transit-navigation service HopStop.com.

Y Combinator graduate Embark’s technology provides information about public transport, a feature left out of last year’s Map app.

Embark’s investors include Silicon Valley seed funds Y Combinator, SV Angel and BMW Group, which has a venture arm that invests in mobile services, according to US tech writer Jessica Lessin who originally broke the story about Apple acquiring Embark.

After Apple Maps launched last year with iOS 6, a litany of complaints about the app followed.

Apple CEO Tim Cook even wrote an open letter to Apple customers, apologising for letting them down. He admitted the Maps app packaged with iOS 6 was flawed, and even recommended Google or Nokia maps instead.

Apple had created the Maps app following the decision to drop Google Maps with the launch of the iOS 6 mobile operating system.

Not long after, a version of Google Maps for iOS 6 appeared in the App Store.

Smartphone navigation image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com