Google acquires image-based city guides company Jetpac to improve visual search

Google is continuing its acquisition binge in 2014 with the purchase of Jetpac, an iOS app that uses public information from Instagram photos to create image-driven city maps and guides. The move appears to be a step toward improving the search giant’s visual-search capabilities.

Jetpac-HipsterJetpac’s City Guides app offers users visual guides to local recommendations for bars, views and other hangout spots in more than 6,000 cities around the world. It serves up guides that are tailored to the user’s personal affinities or filtered by categories of places to go. It also has a “Snappyness” rating to show what visitors snap the most photos of at a specific venue.

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The app also identifies notable elements in Instagram photos, such as blue skies and mustaches, in order to categorize hangout spots. So, for instance, a spot with a noticeably high number of mustaches in photos is tagged as a “Hipster Hangout.”

Jetpac’s Spotter app, on the other hand, allows users to use their iPhone’s video camera to identify objects in real time. This “deep learning” feature in particular may be a boon for Google’s image search capabilities – for its Google Goggles app, for instance. Meanwhile, the City Guides functionalities may be a nifty implementation for Google+ or Google Maps.

Jetpac has announced the acquisition on its website, noting that its iOS apps will soon be removed from the App Store and that support for its apps will end on Sept. 15.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, and Google has yet to confirm the acquisition.

Jetpac City Guides – The Discovery from JetpacApp on Vimeo.

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