Why is Apple hiring away employees from a mapping software maker?

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Apple is poaching senior staff from a Berlin-based mapping company in what looks to be an effort to beef up its mapping efforts, Business Insider reported Wednesday. At least six employees of Here have left for Apple over the past few months — two senior software engineers, two product managers, a director, and the company’s eastern European regional map and content lead.

Here is owned by German automakers Audi, BMW, and Daimler. The three acquired the company from Nokia last summer, who had previously tried to sell Here itself to Apple. The jobs will remain in Berlin, where the company does not have an official presence but was said to be working on the much-rumored Apple Car there.

We will caution that the rumors don’t indicate a resurrection of the Apple Car though, which most recently appeared to be on the outs according to a New York Times report. What it does suggest however is a renewed focus on improving Apple Maps itself.

From nearly the beginning, Apple Maps has not been one of the Cupertino, California, company’s shining moments. Its 2012 release was beset by problems, including a not-ready-for-primetime 3D feature and bad directions and even led to the pushing out of Steve Forstall and the firing of Apple Maps product manager Richard Williamson.

However, the product has gotten much better over the past four years, most recently expanding transit options and improving point-of-interest data earlier in 2016. Here’s strong points are in its live transit and traffic information, and an expansive point-of-interest database — areas where Apple Maps still could use some work.

Apple has not responded to requests for comment and attempts by Business Insider to contact the six known former Here employees were left unanswered, except for former senior software engineer Konstantin Sinitsyn who declined to comment saying he couldn’t disclose what he was working on in his new position at Apple.

Here played down the exodus to Apple, noting the company has nearly 1,000 employees who come from a variety of work backgrounds — including a few former Apple employees too.

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