Apple recently acquired Embark, which is another mapping company. The move shows the potential to bring public transit information to Apple’s in-house Maps app. Sources familiar with the deal say that Apple acquired Embark’s entire team and will integrate Embark’s technology into Apple Maps. News of the acquisition recently broke with Jessica Lessin securing confirmation from an Apple spokesperson that the Embark buy had occurred. According to the spokesperson:
Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.
Embark also makes apps for Google’s Android platform and the future of the applications aren’t currently known since Apple declined to comment. Previous Apple acquisitions of cross-platform developers resulted in a loss of support for the competing platforms. This was seen with HopStop for Windows Phone and Chomp’s Android compatibility.
Embark’s current App Store offerings include public transit information apps for the following: New York City, San Francisco, Boston, New Jersey, Chicago, Washington, D.C., the Long Island Railroad, Caltrain, the Metro-North commuter system, and the Metra commuter rail system. Embark was one of the apps Apple pointed to in the wake of Apple’s Maps’ introduction with iOS 6. In dropping Google Maps, Apple effectively removed the most popular public transit information option from its platform, a move which drew complaints from several users.
This move is the latest in number of location service buys that Apple has made since 2009. In the year, Apple bought Placebase and the buy was followed by Poly9 in 2010 and C3 Technologies in 2011. In this year, Apple ended up purchasing WifiSlam, Locationary, HopStop and now Embark.
We’ll have to wait and see what Apple ends up doing with the acquisition.