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Apple buys Embark to improve Maps for iOS


Apple has added another notch to its mapping service for iOS with the acquisition of Embark that develops a mobile application dedicated to public transportation.

In late 2012, the Cupertino Calif.-based Company had faced strong criticism from users for its poor maps. Over the past few months, Apple has improved Maps, but the quality still doesn’t match with Google Maps. For this reason, Apple has begun acquisition of small startups to integrate the technologies developed by their talented staff, and the latest arrival is Embark — a startup that makes a mobile app dedicated to public transport.

The mapping services are widely used by users who are on feet. Therefore, it is essential to provide all relevant information related to metro lines, trams and buses, the location of the stops and stations, departure times and journey times. This feature is absent in Maps on iOS 6, so users have to install third-party app. Thus, Apple has taken over Embark after HopStop. Both startups offer city transit guide, but the second covers a smaller number of cities, and only metro and trains, while the former also displays information like door-to-door subway and bus directions and maps for over 140 cities around the world.

Apple has confirmed the purchase, but hasn’t unveiled the amount of the sum paid to seal the deal. Embark technology will be integrated in Maps, but it is unlikely that users will see it in the new iOS 7. The collection of data relating to public transport requires a considerable amount of resources, especially in terms of time (you need to contact the various companies), and then the use of an existing database to speed up the procedure.

Just like HopStop (the app for Windows Phone had been removed from the store), the application of Embark for Android is no longer available now. Surely, Apple doesn’t want to give any advantage to the competition.

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