Apple nabs indoor navigation company CEO ahead of anticipated iOS 8 maps push

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
Apple has reportedly hired the cofounder and CEO of indoor location startup Wifarer for a "leadership role" -- but did not acquire the company -- in yet another sign that the iPhone maker is gearing up for a strong mapping push in its next-generation mobile operating system.

Former Wifarer CEO Philip Stanger | Source: DailyDOOH
Former Wifarer CEO Philip Stanger | Source: DailyDOOH


Wifarer cofounder Philip Stanger is said to have joined Apple in February, leaving his own company in the hands of a new CEO. The move was first noticed by TechCrunch.

Stanger's background is somewhat nontraditional for an Apple technical hire, the publication noted, as he attended Johns Hopkins and Yale before stints at the BBC and Paramount Pictures. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from those institutions, according to his LinkedIn profile.

It is possible that Stanger was brought in to help with the user-facing components of a new indoor location strategy for Apple's maps. "Indoor GPS" company WifiSLAM was acquired by Apple last march, but that acquisition brought engineering expertise and "core technology" rather than an existing consumer product.

No other Wifarer employees appear to have made the jump to Apple with Stanger, and it is unknown why Apple did not acquire the firm outright. As noted by TechCrunch, Wifarer has a number of pending location-related U.S. patents.

Apple is widely expected to make maps a priority in iOS 8 after the function received a largely cosmetic makeover in iOS 7. The company will likely leverage previous acquisitions Embark, HopStop, BroadMap, and Locationary to provide improved geolocation, more detailed point-of-interest data, and public transit routing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?

  • Reply 2 of 31
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,558member
    Looks like this company's IP is solely based on Bluetooth LE, so not sure there would be a lot of value for Apple to acquire the whole company. They probably hired this guy to manage iBeacons engineers already at Apple.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?


     

    Missing points of interest. Apple Maps is still missing some POI data. iOS 8 is supposed to include an overhaul in this area.

     

    And to be fair, if it didn't show up on the Map, Siri wasn't going to do anything for you...so thats not an accurate knock on Siri.

  • Reply 4 of 31
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?


     

    Large grocery store is ok!  But why did you mentioned a giant sign?  Do you think the satellites read the boards?

    // I know Apple Maps has so much room to improve. :|

  • Reply 5 of 31
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?

    1) I'm sure there are still pieces places but I use Maps exclusively and haven't had issues*. How is Maps compared to Google Maps at this time its life? I'd say it's probably better, of course that's beside the point if you want something and it doesn't exist on one but does the other, but it does point to Maps being updated faster. Did submit the issue?

    2) Not having Ralph's is odd since it's so well known. What street was it on? I want to see if I can recreate the issue.

    * I did have one issue. It listed my GP's medical park properly but the directions had me going up one too many streets to do a U-turn instead of turning left on another street to enter the park. I submitted a request for change.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post

     

    Large grocery store is ok!  But why did you mentioned a giant sign?  Do you think the satellites read the boards?


    Perhaps a bit too subtle. "Street View". One of the reasons Google is so detailed is that they integrate everything they have, websites, reviews,  maps, search index, street view, everything. That is why Apple is so far behind in maps, it is because they have no resources and rely on lousy third party partners.

     

    Why didn't Siri go find it on Yelp. It is there in plain sight no matter which search engine or yp or Yelp or whatever. The fact that Siri couldn't find any groceries near the Westin is just a complete embarrassment.

  • Reply 7 of 31
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,724member
    And I [I]nabbed[/I] some gardeners to mow my lawn. Because apparently, "nabbed" is the headline-worthy synonym for "hired". /s
  • Reply 8 of 31
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,316member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     

     

    Missing points of interest. Apple Maps is still missing some POI data. iOS 8 is supposed to include an overhaul in this area.

     

    And to be fair, if it didn't show up on the Map, Siri wasn't going to do anything for you...so thats not an accurate knock on Siri.


    And it's not 100% Apple's fault since they had purchased this information from multiple leaders in the industry. It just so happens that Google is better and keeping this information up-to-date in comparison to other solutions. It's a data problem, not something that defines of how well those features work when the data is there.

  • Reply 9 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

     
     

    2) Not having Ralph's is odd since it's so well known. What street was it on? I want to see if I can recreate the issue.

     

    Not the California Ralph's. This is an independent family owned store.

     

    2035 4th Ave

    Seattle, WA 98121

     

    Perhaps I just don't know how to use Siri. I asked her to find grocery stores NEAR the Seattle Westin. She printed it back perfectly but she didn't find anything at all close by. Another thing that bugs me about her results is that she only uses a small part of a question which is why I believe she is so inaccurate. For example now I'm back in California and I asked her the same query "find grocery stores NEAR the Seattle Westin". She completely ignored the Seattle part and found some delis close to where I am right now in California.

  • Reply 10 of 31
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,098member
    The guy has undergraduate and graduate degrees in music. Isn't it within the realm if possibility music not maps is why Apple hired him?

    Music in the sense of listening to blood flow in an attempt to understand how blood flow sounds during the lead up to a heart attack or stroke?

    It is scary how narrowly focused these articles can be at times. Just taking a moment ask one or two questions about how the guy used his music degrees could have turned the story into something else entirely.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    mstone wrote: »
    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?

    Siri: "Seattle Ralphs Grocery" (my current location is SF East Bay)

    1000

    1000


    I have to admit, though, Apple Maps search algorithms are not, yet, as good as Google Maps.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

     
     



     

    Thanks Dick. I think I see where the problem might be. The actual name of the store is Ralph's Grocery and Deli, which is what I asked for. I tried it again right now and apparently if you just ask for just Ralph's Grocery she finds it, but not, if you include the word Deli. I would think she should be smart enough to put it together.

  • Reply 13 of 31
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    Not the California Ralph's. This is an independent family owned store.

    2035 4th Ave

    Seattle, WA 98121

    Perhaps I just don't know how to use Siri. I asked her to find grocery stores NEAR the Seattle Westin. She printed it back perfectly but she didn't find anything at all close by. Another thing that bugs me about her results is that she only uses a small part of a question which is why I believe she is so inaccurate. For example now I'm back in California and I asked her the same query "find grocery stores NEAR the Seattle Westin". She completely ignored the Seattle part and found some delis close to where I am right now in California.

    That's the one I found with Maps. I did a search for Seattle, WA and then for grocery. I thought maybe that store didn't have the proper grocery tag on it but it does. I wonder if it's because you stated "near the Seattle Westin" instead of just saying "near me" or adding hotel at the end. Meaning, I wonder if the additional use of Seattle was an issue.

    If Siri doesn't outright work for me I will typically open up Maps, get my current location and then type or dictate the word grocery or food. The latter being more common since I'm usually looking for a restaurant.

    400
  • Reply 14 of 31
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    Thanks Dick. I think I see where the problem might be. The actual name of the store is Ralph's Grocery and Deli, which is what I asked for. I tried it again right now and apparently if you just ask for just Ralph's Grocery she finds it, but not, if you include the word Deli. I would think she should be smart enough to put it together.

    Submit a report from the Maps app.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    Looks like this company's IP is solely based on Bluetooth LE, so not sure there would be a lot of value for Apple to acquire the whole company. They probably hired this guy to manage iBeacons engineers already at Apple.

    If you watch the following long and noisy video, I think there is a discussion about how the WiFiSLAM tech uses noise to create an unique fingerprint for an indoor location. The noise can be radiation from anything from WiFi signals, IR, magnetic waves, pipes in the walls, etc. -- and the more noise the better. So, if BTLE can contribute to the noise, likely, it can help define the fingerprint.

    This may be especially true because the fingerprint is temporal in that the noise varies over time. Something like iBeacons could provide a known, consistent noise, regardless of time -- and provide a baseline component.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    That's the one I found with Maps. I did a search for Seattle, WA and then for grocery. 


    I got completely different results which did not include as many pins as you show but it does show Ralphs. I think the initial problem was that I didn't use maps at first I just asked Siri and she didn't find anything close. If you just ask Siri for grocery stores in Seattle Ralph's is not included and nothing is near the Westin.

     

  • Reply 17 of 31
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mstone wrote: »
    I got completely different results which did not include as many pins as you show but it does show Ralphs.

    What about for lower-case grocery. I don't think that should make a difference but that's the only difference I am seeing.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    mstone wrote: »
     
    [CONTENTEMBED=/t/179007/apple-nabs-indoor-navigation-company-ceo-ahead-of-anticipated-ios-8-maps-push#post_2525602 layout=inline] [/CONTENTEMBED]
    <img alt="" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="42563" data-type="61" src="http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/42563/width/500/height/1000/flags/LL" style="; width: 500px; height: 375px">


     
    Thanks Dick. I think I see where the problem might be. The actual name of the store is Ralph's Grocery and Deli, which is what I asked for. I tried it again right now and apparently if you just ask for just Ralph's Grocery she finds it, but not, if you include the word Deli. I would think she should be smart enough to put it together.

    I agree ... At first I asked Siri for "Ralphs grocery and deli" -- no luck!

    I think Google's search algorithm tries to return a match -- if it can't find an exact match, it returns the best match.

    I think Apple's search algorithm tries to find an exact match -- often, if it can't find an exact match, it returns nothing.

    I've kinda' grown used to asking for a more direct simpler search when Apple returns nothing ...

    Another demonstration of where less is more :D

    I prefer Google's approach.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

     
     

    I agree ... At first I asked Siri for "Ralphs grocery and deli" -- no luck!

    I think it has something to do with the word "and". The real name uses an ampersand which was removed in the listing for some reason. 

     

    If you ask for Ralph's Grocery Deli she finds it but not if you say Grocery "and" Deli.

     

    If the word and is that strong of a parameter they need to fix that.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,795member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    I hate to say it but Apple maps is still horrible as is Siri integration. I was in Seattle last week and I needed some grocery items. Siri was a complete failure so I turned to Google which found a nice gourmet grocery very near my hotel. "Ralph's Grocery & Deli". I asked Siri for directions to said grocery and she said she could not find it. This is a fairly large grocery with a giant sign on the front of the building located on a busy corner in the center of downtown Seattle. What is the problem?


    I have had very similar issues recently. I asked for an electronic cigarette store to buy some supplies and included my city name in the request and it found ones from other states! The store name was spelled "cellar" and Siri insisted on searching for "seller" so found no results locally. I repeated on google now with voice and it found the one I wanted right away and far quicker. I didn't know the full name but Google was smart enough to figure it out and Siri showed me ones 800 miles away one time and no results on a few more attempts.  Same thing happened with a search for the nearest autozone recently. Siri simply isn't doing as good a job as Google in my experience recently. Yelp, wikipedia, and whatever other sources Siri are using just don't seem to do as good or as fast a job answering questions as Google. Another nice feature of using Google now is it will autocorrect your question as you speak and if it got it wrong you can easily change the word manually by editing by hand. With Siri you have to simply speak the question or command all over again. 

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