When Apple banished Google Maps from its latest iteration of iOS, there was plenty of optimism surrounding their home-grown mapping software. Unfortunately, Apple Maps was plagued by improper information and poor labeling, often guiding users to unmarked locations. In one instance, an entire city was marked as a hospital, and a nursery was misidentified as an airport. Mistakes like these are not easily forgotten, and Apple needs to make great strides in order to rebuild the trust of its users.
According to AllThingsD, Apple has now acquired Toronto-based startup Locationary to bolster its struggling mapping service. Early reports suggest that the deal has already closed, and that the transaction involves both technological assets as well as core staff members. Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling made the announcement, without giving away any further details: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
So what exactly does Locationary do? The company uses crowdsourcing techniques to verify information pertaining to local businesses. In fact, AllThingsD likened the service to a "Wikipedia for business listings".
Locationary makes use of a federated data exchange platform called Saturn to not only pin-point a business’s geographical location, but also to validate whether the institution is still in operation. More specific data such as opening and closing times, relevant phone numbers, and related locations are also contained in their massive database. Out-of-date information is one of the major hurdles that Apple Maps has faced in the past, and Locationary should provide tremendous support in that regard.
Back in December, CEO Tim Cook vowed to improve the mapping service, saying, "We’re putting all of our energy into making it right". It would appear that Apple is delivering on their promise.