Apple Buys Embark, Expands Transit Maps

On Thursday, Apple confirmed to WSJ its acquisition of Embark. Obviously Apple is planning to use Embark’s public transportation map data to improve its own mobile maps.

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Apple’s move seems to be hinting us that Google and Apple are in the same tune to improve mobile maps. Google paid upwards of $1 billion to grab Waze just this past June. The crowdsourced, social sharing app lets users report real time traffic incidents. Google has wasted no time integrating Waze into Google Maps; software updates doing just arrived earlier this week.

Note: Apple also allows its users use the Find My iPhone app if iPhone is lost or stolen. This app is as useful as the maps on iPhone.

Just a month ago news came that Apple had acquired HopStop, another maker of transit-related apps. HopStop used to sell only one app that incorporated transit directions for many cities. While Embark sells several individual programs for various transit systems, including BART in San Francisco, the MBTA in Boston, the New York City subway, and more. After the acquisition, Embark’s apps is still in the App Store. However, the company’s Android offerings, which included iBart and NYC Subway, are no longer available on the Google Play store.

So far it remains unknown when such an update might appear. To date, there has been no mention of substantial Maps improvements to the upcoming iOS 7, which would likely accompany new iPhone hardware expected to be launched next month. That would peg such enhancements to be introduced alongside Apple’s next major iOS update, presumably announced at WWDC 2014.

I think that the improvement will no doubt help Apple make its own Maps refined. When it abandoned Google Maps for its own product, iOS users do have some unhappy moments. But as the Apple’s own map is getting better and better, many users are starting to adapt and enjoy it.

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