Apple is still working to improve its Maps product for iOS, which was the subject of a great deal of grief and ridicule last fall, when iOS 6 launched without Google Maps. The Google Maps app, of course, was eventually released, but Apple would still like to see users turning to its own Maps.
The company has reportedly acquired Embark, a public transit app, to help beef up its offering. Embark had apps for both Android and iOS, but now the Android app has been shut down, while the iOS app remains.
Jessica Lessin broke the news based on discussions with "people knowledgeable about the deal," and says Apple will directly integrate Embark's technology into Apple Maps. She also shares the canned statement Apple always gives when asked about acquisitions:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
This is just the latest in a series of map-related acquisitions Apple has made in recent months. The company also reportedly acquired HopStop and Locationary.
Regardless of how much Apple improves Apple Maps, it's going to be a challenge for the company to convince users to use it over Google Maps. It will likely take some interesting OS integrations to practically force it on people after last year's debacle, which led to the firing of the manager responsible and a public apology from Apple.