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Friday, July 19, 2013

Apple Buys 2 Mapping Companies

Apple is deepening its mapping skills, buying two start-ups that specialize in location technology.

Apple said on Friday that it had bought the two small companies, HopStop and Locationary, giving Apple more expertise in an area where it has struggled. HopStop is an application that can be used to get directions within cities and shows real-time traffic delays. The other start-up, Locationary, is based in Toronto and specializes in maps and mapping data, according to its Web site.

Apple would not disclose terms of the deals. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, “and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple has been deepening its mapping software since it introduced Apple Maps on iOS devices last year. The company promoted the new maps as a major feature of the iPhone 5. But the software was filled with problems, often sending people in the wrong direction and making some satellite photos look like modern artwork rather than maps.

In September, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, posted an apology letter on the company’s Web site saying he was “extremely sorry” for the anguish caused by the app. Some problems still plague the app, and these acquisitions are most likely part of Apple’s effort to improve its service.

HopStop was founded in 2005 with the idea that someone could type two addresses into a Web site and get reliable directions for public transportation. The company overhauled its mobile app in 2013 to add traffic data. The app’s traffic data is based on updates from people using the application, much like Waze, a company bought by Google last month for about $1 billion.

The news of the HopStop acquisition was reported earlier by Bloomberg News. The Locationary acquisition was reported earlier by AllThingsD.