Apple Buying Transit App Maker Embark For A Better Maps Experience

2 minute read
Chris Knight avatar


Apple is reported to be picking up yet another company in its battle to provide a competitive and comprehensive mapping service. Embark currently offers maps for New York, D.C., Boston, San Francisco and other areas. 

Apple Acquires Embark to Add Bite to Maps

As part of its extended buying spree related to maps, transport, timetables and so on, Apple is reported to have picked up Embark to add to the likes of Locationary, acquired last month. The company makes a range of free iPhone apps for different U.S. city transport systems that provide train and subways times, fastest routes, delay alerts and other information. 

Investors in Embark included Y Combinator, SV Angel and Start Fund, with BMW taking an interest last year. Apple has no comment beyond the usual "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," and there's no sign on the company's own site. But it looks like another smart addition to Apple's map efforts, if you happen to live in, or travel to, one of the covered areas. 

The apps are still available to download at the time of writing, suggesting Apple isn't quite ready to roll these features into its own app, if the deal is indeed signed, sealed and delivered. 

Learning Opportunities


Embark's NYC app in action

Mapping Apple's Mapping Efforts

Apple got off to a bad start with its own Maps app, when it booted Google's offering out of the default iPhone setup. Apple's version was far from ready for primetime, missing data and features and generating a lot of negative press.

Presumably all these acquisitions will provide something of a reboot for Maps in iOS 7, which Apple is likely to unveil on 10 September. With phone launches looking all the more alike, and there "secrets" being leaked months ahead of time, its the services and apps that interest users and Apple will be hoping to keep loyalists and tempt converts with a best-in-class mapping experience. 

With Google and Yahoo also snapping up photo, search, news and mapping companies at high speed, are there any indie outliers that you use that would look good in a big player's app? We'd like to hear about them. 

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