Coverage: Apple boosts maps capabilities
Most iPhone users aren’t fans of the Apple map function. Now, Apple is trying to fix that. On Sunday it purchased Coherent Navigation to boost its offering.
TechCrunch had these details in a story by Sarah Buhr:
Apple’s Maps navigation technology still lags behind Google Maps. Nearly twice as many iPhone owners prefer to get directions and look up addresses on the Google version, compared to Apple’s native Maps app, according to recent ComScore numbers.
But it seems Apple is making moves to improve those usage numbers. The global tech giant confirmed earlier today that it bought the high-precision navigation service Coherent Navigation and that the team from Coherent Navigation would join the Apple Maps team.
Apple has not divulged when it bought Coherent Navigation, or for how much, but the LinkedIn page of Paul G. Lego, Coherent Navigation’s CEO shows he’s been working for Apple for the last 5 months.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” the company told TechCrunch in a statement, “and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote for The Wall Street Journal that Coherent’s CEO listed Apple as his employer since January:
Apple didn’t say when it bought the company or how much it paid, but Coherent Navigation’s Chief Executive Paul Lego said on his LinkedIn profile that he joined Apple’s maps team in January.
Coherent Navigation was working on “developing a commercial high-precision navigation service” based on satellite technology, according to Lego’s profile. He also said the company performed “classified and unclassified” work for the U.S. government.
The acquisition is part of a series of map-related technology deals made by Apple in recent years. It has acquired mapping start-ups BroadMap, Embark and HopStop.com as part of its acquisition spree, which accelerated shortly after the company’s decision to create its own alternative to Google Maps for the mapping feature on its devices. It started offering Apple Maps in 2012.
The New York Times story by Mike Isaac had this background about Coherent’s business:
Founded in 2008, Coherent Navigation was a small firm that focused on creating commercial navigation services based on partnerships with companies like Boeing and Iridium, the satellite network operator, according to a description on the LinkedIn page of Paul Lego, the company’s former chief executive.
Since its start, the importance of its technology has only grown.
Coherent Navigation worked on high-precision navigation systems, technology that is far stronger than many consumer-grade global positioning systems, which are typically accurate to within three to five meters. In the past, Coherent Navigation has also worked on autonomous navigation and robotics projects, according to previous company job listings, as well as projects for the Defense Department.
It is unclear exactly how Apple will use the company’s services or technology, or if the company will incorporate its prior work into Apple’s current products.
David Murphy wrote for PC Magazine that Coherent’s technology can pinpoint a GPS down to a few centimeters:
Apple has confirmed that it has acquired Coherent Navigation. Among the company’s focuses include an enhanced version of GPS, which uses both normal, high-altitude GPS satellites and lower-altitude voice and data satellites (from Iridium) to increase the accuracy of a GPS reading from the ground.
Just how accurate? According to Macrumors, which was the first to report the acquisition, Coherent Navigation can allegedly pinpoint a GPS tracker down to a few centimeters. It’s unclear just what, if anything, Coherent Navigation’s technology might bolster over at Apple, as it’s also possible that the acquisition was for the talent of the team behind the “iGPS” tech. CEO Paul Lego is now working in some capacity on Apple Maps, whereas Coherent Navigation’s co-founders are working in location-themed engineering roles, reports Macrumors.
The details of the deal and what Apple will do with the company weren’t really revealed, but it is filling a gaping hole in their offerings. its maps function has been turning users off since the beginning and making it more functional will be a good move. Here’s to seeing how they integrate the new technology and how long it takes.