Apple maps out map improvement and navigates navigation by acquiring another startup

apple acquires coherent navigation maps
Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr
Just as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was forever tainted by its past, so it has been with Apple Maps. That hasn’t stopped the company from doing what it can to improve the service, and for Apple, this usually means acquiring new talent and technologies.

The latest acquisition is San Francisco-based GPS startup Coherent Navigation, founded in 2008. The acquisition was first reported by MacRumors, and soon after, Apple confirmed the deal to the New York Times. The reasoning behind the purchase isn’t currently known, as Apple gave its usual non-statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple had shown interest in Coherent Navigation previously, and a number of Coherent staff have recently begun working for the company. CEO Paul Lego joined Apple in January, and Coherent co-founders William Bencze and Brett Ledvina were brought on board in April.

Little is known about what Coherent staff members will be working on at Apple. Lego has only said that he is part of the Apple Maps team, and Ledvina and Bencze hold similar positions in location-related projects at the company.

One of the most interesting technologies that Coherent Navigation was working on prior to the acquisition was High Integrity GPS (iGPS). This combines signals from standard GPS satellites with low-earth voice and data satellites for increased precision and signal quality. Iridium, owner of the low-earth satellites in question, says that iGPS could potentially provide location information accurate to within centimeters.

Coherent Navigation is far from the only mapping and navigation-related company that Apple has acquired recently, MacRumors points out. Key developers behind Locationary, Pin Drop, WifiSLAM, Hopstop, and more have joined Apple in recent years.

Apple isn’t focusing only on improving accuracy in its maps, but is adding features as well. Last month saw the company add reviews from TripAdvisor and Booking.com to the existing Yelp reviews in Apple Maps.

No further information on the deal or its terms have been made available at the time of this writing.

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