Over the past few months, Apple has continued to bolster and improve its Maps software for iOS, adding data from GasBuddy and GreatSchools as well as expanding its Flyover 3-D view feature to more locations. According to a recent report from The New York Times, Apple has acquired GPS start up Coherent Navigation to further build on its location software.
Coherent Navigation was founded in 2008 as a small firm focused on creating commercial navigation services based on partnerships with Boeing and Iridium, the satellite network operator, and other companies. Coherent Navigation has produced high-precision navigation systems that are more accurate than most consumer-grade global positioning systems, which typically provide a user’s location to within 3 to 5 meters.
Autonomous navigation and robotics projects have also been initiated by Coherent Navigation, according to previous company job postings, along with projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. We don’t know for certain how Apple will incorporate Coherent Navigation’s prior work into Cupertino’s current products, unfortunately. Apple has only issued its boilerplate statement about the acquisition, saying that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Since its rough road away from Google Maps with the release of iOS 6 in 2012, Apple has made several mapping-related acquisitions to improve its Maps app. Cupertino has gobbled up the developers behind Pin Drop as well as mapping companies like Locationary, WifiSlam, Hopstop, Embark, and Broadmap. The company is working to add features like public transit information and possibly imagery comparable to Google Maps’s Street View.
It’s exciting to see Apple continue to expand upon and improve Maps. I use the Maps app very frequently on my iPhone, but I still find myself needing to use Google Maps to find some location-based information when I’m out and about. I look forward to the day when all I need is the built-in location software and can ditch extra apps like Google Maps.