Apple acquires mass transit app maker Embark to expand Maps


Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has acquired mass transit software tracking developer Embark, signaling the computing giant's latest step to enhance its much-criticized Apple Maps platform. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the deal but declined to supply additional details, including the transaction price.

Embark, a Silicon Valley startup founded in 2011, creates free iOS applications designed to simplify mass transit usage, offering consumers step-by-step instructions tailored to their specific metropolitan area. Embark estimates arrival times and alerts users when their train is running late or faces track advisories and closures. The service works with or without a wireless network connection, enabling access even while underground. There are 10 Embark apps in all, spotlighting cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.

News of the Embark acquisition follows just weeks after Apple snapped up transit navigation app developer HopStop and crowdsourced location services provider Locationary. HopStop's free mobile applications offer door-to-door transit, walking, biking and taxi directions spanning more than 300 cities worldwide, complete with real-time alerts and planned service changes; Locationary's Saturn platform merges information from more than 250 different feeds and repositories to assemble a real-time database for local business listings, building merchant profiles including details like hours of operation, products, services and rich media efforts.

The Embark and HopStop deals enable Apple to integrate mass transit support into Apple Maps, launched last year in association with its iOS 6 operating system update as a replacement for preloaded Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps services. Consumers have been harshly critical of Apple Maps, identifying dozens of inaccuracies, and the outcry even prompted a public apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who later said the company is "putting all of our energy into making [Maps] right."

For more:
- read this Bloomberg article
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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