Apple reportedly acquires public transit and navigation firm HopStop [update: confirmed]

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple on Friday has reportedly purchased transit navigation service HopStop, which also has an iPhone app of the same name, in a possible bid to bolster its own in-house mapping solution.

Update: Apple has confirmed the acquisition to AllThingsD, but did not reveal what it plans to do with the mapping firm.

HopStop


Citing sources with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg reports that Apple has just purchased HopStop, a localized public transit navigation service that could potentially be folded into the company's Maps iOS app, and the upcoming OS X Mavericks version.

If the report is accurate, HopStop's technology could by Apple to build out its Maps app, offering users directions for bus, train, subway and other transit options. The current version of Maps does not include such functionality, and instead points users searching for public transit routes toward third-party apps that can handle such tasks. Along with supporting transit information for over 300 major cities, HopStop also includes walking, car and bicycle routing.

News of the reported purchase comes just hours after Apple announced it had acquired Locationary, a tech startup that uses crowd-sourced data to offer accurate and up-to-date listings of local businesses.

Apple's Maps has been the source of much debate since it was launched with iOS 6 in 2012. Incorrect data, graphical glitches and navigation issues plagued the app during its first few months in the wild. The company is still working hard to bring the mapping solution up to snuff, as evidenced by today's acquisitions.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    Public transit data would be a huge win for Maps! I won't need Google Maps any more.
  • Reply 2 of 37
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,443member
    There must be a few small iOS mapping companies jumping up and down shouting, "me, me me."
  • Reply 3 of 37
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Definitely a step in the right direction. Looks like a slick, well-organised company.

    I still don't see how they will ever get the bike and pedestrian info without adding a bazillion employees around the world though.
  • Reply 4 of 37
    squuiidsquuiid Posts: 52member
    Wow, nice move Apple. Great acquisition.
  • Reply 5 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,493member
    Excellent! I recommend they buy the companies that created the apps Transit and Embark next.
  • Reply 6 of 37
    themacmanthemacman Posts: 151member
    Bye Bye Google Maps, never liked you anyway.
  • Reply 7 of 37
    noelosnoelos Posts: 106member
    Just like Yelp, however, no so great outside USA. I just asked it to route my daily commute in Sydney (supposedly supported) and it recommended a 2 hour journey to somewhere random. Start and destination are 25 minutes apart on the same train line.
  • Reply 8 of 37
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member


    YES YES YES. This is the best Apple news I've heard in a long time. Nice job Eddy!

  • Reply 9 of 37
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noelos View Post



    Just like Yelp, however, no so great outside USA. I just asked it to route my daily commute in Sydney (supposedly supported) and it recommended a 2 hour journey to somewhere random. Start and destination are 25 minutes apart on the same train line.


     This is different than Yelp since it's an acquisition. Apple can put more resources toward keeping Hopstop's routing info up to date.

  • Reply 10 of 37
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,622member
    I just downloaded and tested the app for some New York locations and it is very impressive.
    It accurately combines walking instructions with bus routes and train / rails instructions very nicely.

    Apple can do wonders with this.

    [VIDEO]

    [/VIDEO]
  • Reply 11 of 37
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,622member
    noelos wrote: »
    Just like Yelp, however, no so great outside USA. I just asked it to route my daily commute in Sydney (supposedly supported) and it recommended a 2 hour journey to somewhere random. Start and destination are 25 minutes apart on the same train line.

    You must select the correct transportation methods. If you select train only for example and you need to take a bus to the train, it assumes you want to walk to the train. You must select train and bus transportation and it will give you correct walking, bus and train instructions correctly. Very impressive application.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,718member
    Great news.
  • Reply 13 of 37
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member


    I just tested it for Vancouver (Canada) and the recommended route was not the ideal choice, but the second suggestion was. Close enough. I call it a win!

  • Reply 14 of 37
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,524member
    Let's see...

    [B] ? [/B]Point-to-point Navigation
    [B] ? [/B]Crowd-sourced reliable POI data
    [B] ? [/B]Transit/bicycle/walking data
    [B] ? [/B]Best-in-class 3D Flyover Mapping
    [B] ? [/B]Top-notch desktop mapping app
    [B] ? [/B]Desktop Map / Mobile Map interaction
    [B] ? [/B]Find iDevice, Find Friends Social Mapping
    [B] ? [/B]iOS 7 & Mavericks Maps SDK
    [B] ? [/B]Enhanced Location Services
    [B] ? [/B]Multi-Layered Map overlays
    [B] ? [/B]Custom Map Tiles
    [B]  - [/B]Programmable/Scriptable Map Traversal
    [B]  - [/B]Pictorial Summary Maps
    [B]  - [/B]Demographic Mapping
    [B]  - [/B]Improved searching
    [B]    [/B]Route Points, Track Points -- trip planning and tracking
    [B]    [/B]Improved world-wide satellite views
    [B]    [/B]Street view maps
    [B]    [/B]indoor mapping
    [B]    [/B]Web based maps app


    I think Apple is in a pretty good position to become the goto mapping solution within the next 2-3 years -- I think they can buy companies or contract services to flesh out the missing bits.

    [B][I]I do hope that Apple does right by the developers who have followed Apple's guidance and created 3rd-party transit apps![/I][/B]
  • Reply 15 of 37
    leesmithleesmith Posts: 119member
    Smart purchase. HopStop is a good company on its own.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,493member
    Next on Apple's to-do list.... Internet search supported by ad revenue.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,295member
    At one time I thought Apple might be bluffing Google on mapping. But it looks more and more that they're serious about taking them on. What's needed to seal the deal is some kind of killer map function that Google can't easily mimic. Not sure if that even exists.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    am8449am8449 Posts: 343member


    HopStop is indeed a great app.  And I'm sure the acquisition will go a long ways in improving Maps.


     


    However, I liked Apple's original idea of leaving public transit to 3rd-party developers.  The companies that run the subways, buses, and other public transit are in the best position to create these apps—they have the resources and nuanced knowledge of their own systems.  They just need to get their asses moving, and fill in the gap.  Perhaps this is Apple's way to jumpstart the effort by showing the way.


     


    I hope this doesn't mean Apple is changing strategies.

  • Reply 19 of 37
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member


    Buy Transit too, please.

  • Reply 20 of 37
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post



    At one time I thought Apple might be bluffing Google on mapping. But it looks more and more that they're serious about taking them on. What's needed to seal the deal is some kind of killer map function that Google can't easily mimic. Not sure if that even exists.


     


    I think if they can just match them feature for feature, and on the same level of quality, Apple will "win."  Their solution is more elegant right out of the gate than Google's which is typically tasteless and confusing (or at least it was until they started copying Apple's approach this year.)  


     


    I have serious doubts that Apple can achieve this however as they really just don't seem to want to spend the resources on it.  Buying technology, and companies and using crowd sourcing is one thing, but they still need to hire a lot of people around the world to really get their maps up to snuff compared to Google.  


     


    I think that they need to at least expend as much human capital on it as Google does, but Apple has a long history and a firm belief in exactly the opposite.  Apple has always preferred to use very small groups of people working closely together in one room for pretty much all things, but mapping the world is arguably a task for absolutely huge groups of people working separately all over the globe. I don't see crowd sourcing as really cutting it for bicycle paths and pedestrian directions and even if it does, it will be a decade before the basic information is built up.  

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