In an ongoing struggle to keep up with Google Maps, Apple continues to acquire map-centric companies, the latest of which is Embark Inc. According to the company website, Embark makes “mass transit simpler”. It also helps users plan trips, providing them with interactive maps and up-to-date alerts. Currently, the free app is supported in several major cities including Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
Jessica Lessin, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, first broke the story on her yet-to-be named technology news publication. The acquisition was reportedly confirmed by an Apple spokeswoman, who later used the blanket statement, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”.
When the home-grown Apple Maps launched last fall, the tech giant announced that public transit features were coming soon. These types of capabilities would eventually help people to predict the arrival of trains and buses, making travel coordination significantly easier.
Unfortunately, Apple Maps was criticized for its poor performance and numerous inaccuracies; some of which included a city being marked as a hospital and a nursery misidentified as an airport. Rather than releasing these features to an admittedly buggy interface, Apple redirected its users to third-party apps – one of which was Embark.
From Embark’s point of view, the buyout makes plenty of sense. Although they already have nearly half a million people using their service and recently received an investment from BMW last November, they still face considerable competition from other mapping apps such as iTransitBuddy and Rover. And much like Embark, these companies were also promoted by Apple amidst their Apple Maps debacle.
As the land grab for mapping companies continues to develop, the industry is effectively a two-man war between Apple and Google. Over the last two months alone, Apple has also acquired transit information companies Locationary and HopStop, while Google has snatched up traffic specialist Waze.
The Apple iPhone 5 is the latest flagship smartphone from Apple. The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display retains the same 326 PPI density as its predecessor with an effective resolution of 1,126 x 640, and a new Lightning connector. The new handset now features 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with 802.11n supporting dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Bluetooth 4.0 is back in addition to GPS and GLONASS for location services.
The iPad 2 improves on the original in many ways, including a significantly faster dual-core CPU, improved graphics and a thinner footprint. The iPad 2 also manages to shave off 0.2 pounds for a total weight of 1.33 pounds on the Wi-Fi only model. Apple has included two cameras on the iPad 2 – a VGA-quality front facing lens for FaceTime and a rear-facing camera capable of recording 720p video.
The iPhone 4S looks identical to last year's model but comes in a new 64GB flavor and upgrades the camera to include an 8-megapixel sensor with improved low-light performance and 1080p video capture. In terms of performance the new iPhone is reportedly up to 2x faster and is also capable of running on faster HSPA+ networks, reaching theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps.
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