Apple buys public transport map app developer Embark

Apple has given an indication of one major area it plans to improve in Apple Maps by purchasing public transport map app specialist Embark.

That’s the news according to former Wall Street Journal journalist Jessica Lessin and “people knowledgable about the deal,” at least.

Embark was founded in 2011 to build Android and iOS apps containing information on public transport systems. It currently offers 10 apps covering seven US cities. It seems these apps are still present on the iOS App Store, but have been removed from the Google Play Store.

Apple appears to have confirmed the purchase with the typically terse canned statement of “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

The company’s purchase of Embark is unsurprising, despite the fact that it already acquired a public transport app company, HopStop, as recently as July.

Back around the time of the Apple Maps debacle last year, when Apple was unable to provide its own public transport mapping solutions in time for the calamitous Apple Maps release, users flocked to Embark on Apple’s own recommendation. As a result of the sudden increase in usage, Embark could claim to have attracted more than 500,000 users as of November last year.

BMW duly invested, but Apple has now gone one step further and bought the up and coming company outright. The question now is, when will Apple introduce the much requested public transport feature of its steadily recovering Apple Maps service?

Now read our Google Maps 2013 review.

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