updated 06:52 pm EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
Suggests potential expansion for Maps alongside Locationary
On the same day it became public that Apple had purchased business-listing and information service Locationary, it has been confirmed that the iPhone maker has also acquired public transit navigation service HopStop. The most likely plan for the service is to fold it into Maps, Apple's own in-house GPS and mapping program. Apple's decision to forego transit directions when it launched its own Maps app was a major point of criticism from early users, and a selling point that kept many using Google's Maps application once it returned to iOS.
Though Apple's Maps has improved dramatically since its error-prone debut, and is now acknowledged to be as good as -- or in some cases better -- than Google's Maps in some areas, it is still seen as lacking in others. Public transit information was one such area, but users also missed features found on Google Maps such as Street View.
The Apple Maps app offers Flyover, but it hasn't come to most cities yet despite steady expansion of the feature. The program is also very North America-centric compared to Google's Maps, though again it is steadily gaining ground.
HopStop offers directions for bus, train, ferry and subway options, as well as bicycle, car and walking routes for over 300 major cities. With news of the acquisition, Android users can expect an announcement soon on the fate of the Android app, which is currently still available.
Alongside the acquisition of Locationary -- which uses crowd-sourced data about businesses beyond those tracked by companies like Yelp, Apple's current source for retail data -- Apple is clearly still working to fulfill CEO Tim Cook's vow to bring the application up to Apple's usual standards of excellence. There have been routine reports over the last six months of management and team building, along with other acquisitions to expand and improve the program.