Apple buys crowdsourced mapping data startup Locationary

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
As part of its effort to improve its Maps service for iOS and the upcoming OS X Mavericks, Apple has reportedly acquired crowdsourced location data company Locationary.

Maps


The deal was confirmed by Apple spokesman Steve Dowling to John Paczkowski of AllThingsD. The Toronto-based Locationary is said to include the company's technology and personnel, though the price of the small acquisition is unknown.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed in May that his company had at that point acquired 9 companies since October of 2012. He also said that his company had picked up the pace since 2012, when Apple acquired companies at a rate of one every 70 days.

The purchase of Locationary is a typical acquisition for Apple, as the iPhone maker does not usually make major, blockbuster buyouts. Instead, Apple's team chooses to buy smaller, targeted companies that offer unique services.

Paczkowski described Locationary as a "sort of Wikipedia for local business listings," the type of data that could help Apple boost its Maps service with up-to-date listings. Currently Apple partners with Yelp for local business data.

Locationary will enhance that information with a data exchange platform dubbed "Saturn," which aims to quickly eliminate out-of-date information. That capability could help give Apple a leg up on the current maps market leader, Google.

Apple's iOS Maps debuted in September of 2012 along with iOS 6, and immediately drew criticism and complaints from a range of users, who found inaccuracies in the location data and faulty rendering of the 3D flyover data. The ensuing controversy was so widespread that Cook was compelled to issue an apology to its customers, and even recommend alternative options.

In Apple's history of acquisitions, one of the most prominent deals came in 2010, when the company acquired Siri, the developer of a personal assistant application for the iPhone. The Siri service eventually became included as part of the iOS mobile operating system with the launch of the iPhone 4S a year later, in 2011.

A year ago, Apple acquired Florida-based fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec for a reported $356 million. It's expected that the company's embeddable fingerprint sensors will appear in a future iPhone model, potentially as soon as this year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member
    But Waze and Google!
  • Reply 2 of 40
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member


    It's all well and good, but what Apple really needs to do is hire people to read, process and apply Maps fixes people have been submitting for the past year. The all too common story is people submitting Maps fixes about 5 times over a period on many months and eventually giving up when no changes are made by Apple. This is inexcusable. A lot of very important fixes are not being fixed.

  • Reply 3 of 40
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Typical "management" solution - buy some company to improve a product. How about utilising *actual* cause and effect?

    Have people (Apple employees) physically go to locations where there's a problem reported, carrying an electronic device that takes new readings? Then you don't have a "hope" of an actual solution (based on the premise that the acquisition is good enough) but an *actual* solution that is as good an your employees ability to operate a (hopefully simple) device.
  • Reply 4 of 40
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    This is very good news. Hoping it makes maps more reliable!

    ireland wrote: »
    It's all well and good, but what Apple really needs to do is hire people to read, process and apply Maps fixes people have been submitting for the past year. The all too common story is people submitting Maps fixes about 5 times over a period on many months and eventually giving up when no changes are made by Apple. This is inexcusable. A lot of very important fixes are not being fixed.

    Agreed.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    chandra69 wrote: »
    But Waze and Google!

    It's interesting that this company seems similar to Waze. I wonder if Locationary holds more IP?

    Whatever the case Apple surely got the company for a bargain compared to what they would have spent for Waze.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,607member
    Locationary is an awesome idea.

    Apple can provide incentives globally to compete and fine tune Apple Maps.
  • Reply 7 of 40
    eckerguseckergus Posts: 96member
    Folks, it is not that easy to "just" fix the thousands (if not millions) of inaccuracies in mapping data. How many trained/qualified people do you think it's needed to "just" fix those issues? How many trained/qualified people do you think would need to go to the field to collect and/or verify data? then, encode/translate that data to the mapping data? But most importantly, how much time do you think would be needed to take care of the data inaccuracies when we all know the world is continually changing? Google started working on their mapping solution about a decade before Apple. People seem to forget that. Apple is not only trying to catch up but supersede a company that has been doing this for way longer than they have. That my friends is indeed an ambicious goal, and for that I applaud Apple. We'll see at the end of the day what the outcome of their efforts will be. But I sure hope Apple can show Google how it's done.
  • Reply 8 of 40
    ireland wrote: »
    It's all well and good, but what Apple really needs to do is hire people to read, process and apply Maps fixes people have been submitting for the past year. The all too common story is people submitting Maps fixes about 5 times over a period on many months and eventually giving up when no changes are made by Apple. This is inexcusable. A lot of very important fixes are not being fixed.

    I know that Apple is accepting and submitting changes to their mapping data. At least here where I live in Perris, California. After installing iOS 6 on my third generation iPad, I used the new Maps application to check out my immediate surroundings. Where I live there has been new exits and entrances built to the freeway. Maps originally had the old mapping info for the area, but after clicking the "Report a problem" button in the application, the changes were indeed made within a month or so. So they are fixing issues that get reported.
  • Reply 9 of 40
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member


    I'm going to say it like the rest.  Apple's putting all their chips in the hardware basket and none in the services basket.


    Sure they bought a chip manufacturer but skimped on services like WAZE and Dropbox.  Of course Dropbox asked for an 8-figure sum, but if you ask me it would've been money well spent.  Once again Apple demonstrates that they care more about hardware than services.


     


    Yes, they should've bought WAZE but I agree that would not have solved the problem completely.  However, WAZE is a hugely popular site and it would have gotten them a really good head start.  Yes, I agree Apple needs a small army and about 50 network offices in major cities to add, correct and collect new data also.  Software will get you part of the way there but it take billions of man-hours to get mapping right.  Hell, I live in St. Louis (arguably a 2nd or 3rd tier city by many's standards) but the "standard" map view shows the OLD Busch Stadium and none of the building outlines shown on the map are in 3d.  For historical sake the OLD Busch was torn down in 2005!!!  So for all intents and purposes, we in St. Louis are working off mapping data that's nearly 8 years old in some cases.  That's embarrassing!  I mean if they kept the raw graphical data current at this point i'd be happy for a while but this is just crazy bad.


     


    Edit:  In comparison, I submitted a correction to Google Maps about the Metra Train lines in Chicago being inaccurate.  They were simply vector lines connecting from station to station.  That request for change happened in April 2012.  When I loaded up the Transit overlay on the New Google Maps App for my iPad, the lines were fixed and follow the actual track lines from the satellite map.  That's pretty impressive turn-around.  Hell, Apple can't even be bothered to show walking paths, Train/subway lines or even correct building outlines.  If you need a helper-app...it's a fail.


     


    Now with Dropbox, yes, they are currently not for sale and Apple was trying to feel them out and didn't like the number quoted to them.  But if you ask me, it's going to be another sad day when they do finally decide to sell and it probably won't be Apple that buys them.


     


    I was so hopeful when i heard they are taking some of their services to the cloud and to the web (i.e. iWork for web)  but they really need to step it up.  I love apple and their products but they need a swift kick in the ass when it comes to services.

  • Reply 10 of 40
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    It's all well and good, but what Apple really needs to do is hire people to read, process and apply Maps fixes people have been submitting for the past year. The all too common story is people submitting Maps fixes about 5 times over a period on many months and eventually giving up when no changes are made by Apple. This is inexcusable. A lot of very important fixes are not being fixed.



    Do you know how many submissions they get on a daily basis?  They also have to go through different data suppliers, etc.  Some get fixed quicker than others.  It's also a matter of populated areas.


     


    So far, in my area i have found no errors.  But the only one's I've seen were more of the 3D visual errors like the roads looked like they were caved in, but a lot of the obviously popular places have been cleaned up.  Even Google has had those problems even very recently.


     


    It's kind of hard getting a mapping program perfect.  heck, you may have short term memory, but when Mapquest and Google Maps first came out, they gave bad directions all of the time. Nobody seemed to complain about it.  Obviously there are many maps apps one can choose to use no one is forcing you to use one or the other.  Yeah, and everyone thinks that the problems they encounter are the most important ones to address.

  • Reply 11 of 40
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,687member
    Google had an illegal turn in my area for five years, if not longer. Not making excuses for Apple, but fixing errors isn't trivial.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    Locationary is an awesome idea.

    Apple can provide incentives globally to compete and fine tune Apple Maps.

    [VIDEO]

    [/VIDEO]

    Looks like the data Locationary provides is far more advanced than Waze.

    antkm1 wrote: »
    I'm going to say it like the rest.  Apple's putting all their chips in the hardware basket and none in the services basket.
    Sure they bought a chip manufacturer but skimped on services like WAZE and Dropbox.  Of course Dropbox asked for an 8-figure sum, but if you ask me it would've been money well spent.  Once again Apple demonstrates that they care more about hardware than services.

    Yes, they should've bought WAZE but I agree that would not have solved the problem completely.  However, WAZE is a hugely popular site and it would have gotten them a really good head start.  Yes, I agree Apple needs a small army and about 50 network offices in major cities to add, correct and collect new data also.  Software will get you part of the way there but it take billions of man-hours to get mapping right.  Hell, I live in St. Louis (arguably a 2nd or 3rd tier city by many's standards) but the "standard" map view shows the OLD Busch Stadium and none of the building outlines shown on the map are in 3d.  For historical sake the OLD Busch was torn down in 2005!!!  So for all intents and purposes, we in St. Louis are working off mapping data that's nearly 8 years old in some cases.  That's embarrassing!  I mean if they kept the raw graphical data current at this point i'd be happy for a while but this is just crazy bad.

    Edit:  In comparison, I submitted a correction to Google Maps about the Metra Train lines in Chicago being inaccurate.  They were simply vector lines connecting from station to station.  That request for change happened in April 2012.  When I loaded up the Transit overlay on the New Google Maps App for my iPad, the lines were fixed and follow the actual track lines from the satellite map.  That's pretty impressive turn-around.  Hell, Apple can't even be bothered to show walking paths, Train/subway lines or even correct building outlines.  If you need a helper-app...it's a fail.

    Now with Dropbox, yes, they are currently not for sale and Apple was trying to feel them out and didn't like the number quoted to them.  But if you ask me, it's going to be another sad day when they do finally decide to sell and it probably won't be Apple that buys them.

    I was so hopeful when i heard they are taking some of their services to the cloud and to the web (i.e. iWork for web)  but they really need to step it up.  I love apple and their products but they need a swift kick in the ass when it comes to services.

    We can all agree lots needs to be done but honestly not sure if Waze would have gotten them where they need to be.

    They need better satellite imaging for the 3D maps and there are companies out there with the data Apple needs, and they need more current Maps data and there are established companies out there Apple could buy or partner with.

    Waze would not have been a quick fix.
  • Reply 13 of 40
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    So it's a story about Apple buying a successful Canadian location company that does the majority of its work in Canada, but the article not only doesn't mention that fact, it adds on a couple of completely irrelevant fly-over pictures of an American theme park?

    Wow, that makes a lot of sense.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    tenchi211 wrote: »
    I know that Apple is accepting and submitting changes to their mapping data. At least here where I live in Perris, California. After installing iOS 6 on my third generation iPad, I used the new Maps application to check out my immediate surroundings. Where I live there has been new exits and entrances built to the freeway. Maps originally had the old mapping info for the area, but after clicking the "Report a problem" button in the application, the changes were indeed made within a month or so. So they are fixing issues that get reported.
    i think the big issue however is that while this seems to happen in California, it happens with less frequency in other states and basically not at all outside of the USA. I suppose we should expect it because they all got up on stage at the WWDC to explicitly tell us how California is better than the rest of the world and I suppose as a result of that, more deserving.
  • Reply 15 of 40
    ipilyaipilya Posts: 189member
    I am sorry, but I find that waze has as many issues as Apple Maps including some rather frustrating problems where the voice will tell me to turn right when the map says to turn left.

    I am also wondering what affect the google purchase of waze will do to maps since it already uses waze data? (though this will not affect anyone I believe but those in Israel)

    What astounds me the most however, is why the apple maps data has the issues that it has since some of the source has been around for so long (and why didnt people complain before).

    For those who are interested, here is the source attribution page from Apple: http://gspsa21.ls.apple.com/html/attribution.html
  • Reply 16 of 40
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    blackbook wrote: »
    Looks like the data Locationary provides is far more advanced than Waze.
    We can all agree lots needs to be done but honestly not sure if Waze would have gotten them where they need to be.

    They need better satellite imaging for the 3D maps and there are companies out there with the data Apple needs, and they need more current Maps data and there are established companies out there Apple could buy or partner with.

    Waze would not have been a quick fix.
    I think what I find most irritating is that irrespective of this or that company, a lot of the information Apple needs to fix their maps is actually available open source and free of charge, but they still don't seem to use it. A lot of European countries and places like Canada, New Zealand, etc. have vector maps including roads, bike paths, and everything down to plumbing and electrical systems available free of charge from the governments where it's all collected and collated etc. My city has had this information available online for over fifteen years, yet Apple maps doesn't have it. It's ugly, and its all done in autocad, so no one uses it as a resource except builders, but its accurate and freely available data.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post



    Google had an illegal turn in my area for five years, if not longer. Not making excuses for Apple, but fixing errors isn't trivial.


    I know.  I don't rely on a Mapping program most of the time since I know how to get to 99% of the places that I go. So far, I use Maps as something to play around with, but I know no mapping program is 100% accurate.  I


     


    I'm using Google Maps right now and looking at a shopping center and it lists some of stores as being located in the parking lot when there is clearly enough room to post the info in the actual location of the store.  Go figure...........  Maybe I have to buy Google Maps+ for $1.99 for a better experience.....  I thought everything from Google was FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!  So much for their OPEN SOURCE mentality.  paying Google for something? Nope, that goes against my principals.

  • Reply 18 of 40
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,647member
    chandra69 wrote: »
    But Waze and Google!

    This is a problem with Apple's acquisition policy. They should have bought Navigon years before Nokia bought them. They should have bought Skype years ago, and they should have bought Waze years ago. All of those could have been purchased at a fraction of what they went for more recently. But Apple has this skewed idea of not understanding how important they are. They should buy a number of other major companies, but won't do so.

    But the problem is that even when they do buy some companies for their products, such as Siri, they make a big splash with it—and then do nothing for years, allowing everyone else to catch up, or go ahead. This is something I don't understand. I do understand that Apple has a long term vision of where it wants to go, but they need to also understand that the competition won't stand still long enough for them to get there first.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    [VIDEO]

    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 20 of 40
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,142member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    Typical "management" solution - buy some company to improve a product. How about utilising *actual* cause and effect?



    Have people (Apple employees) physically go to locations where there's a problem reported, carrying an electronic device that takes new readings? Then you don't have a "hope" of an actual solution (based on the premise that the acquisition is good enough) but an *actual* solution that is as good an your employees ability to operate a (hopefully simple) device.


     


    Yeah, your solution just sounds fantastic and plausible. If Apple had around 500,000 people on the maps team. "Physically go to each location"? Are you serious? Do you know how many tens of thousands of issues are probably reported in each and every single city? Think a bit next time you mock something while smugly proposing an unrealistic scenario of your own. 

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