Apple buys Embark – Deal Brings Public Transit Directions to Maps

Posted by at 4:36 pm on August 22, 2013

Apple has bought out Embark, a developer specializing in well-known public transportation apps for iOS and Android, says journalist Jessica Lessin. The apps supply routes, times, and maps for getting to destinations via train and subway systems. Lessin explains that the Embark team, less than a dozen people, was picked up so that Apple can bring transit directions back into its Maps app for iOS and (soon) OS X.

Apple frustrated a number of iPhone and iPad users last year when iOS 6 shipped with a redesigned version of Maps, stripped of any Google content. That meant the loss not only of transit directions, but also features like Street View, and much of the app’s accuracy. A number of landmarks were initially mislabeled or found in the wrong places, in some cases leading people dangerously off-course.

To get around some of the missing features, Apple implemented technology through which apps like Embark could be launched automatically when needed. The option forces people out of Maps though, making it inconvenient. Embark was one of the first developers to support the hooks.

In July Apple bought out another developer of transit apps, HopStop. That company’s data and code might be needed to offer a complete set of alternatives to car directions; aside from transit systems, HopStop can also be used for walking and bicycle routes.

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