Apple Gobbles Indoor Mapping Startup WifiSlam
iPhone Download Blog

Future iPhones and iPads may be able to pinpoint the location of other mobile devices and can perform step-by-step navigation even in areas where GPS is unavailable. Apple has acquired WiFiSLAM, a startup that created technology that uses ambient WiFi signals already present in buildings to provide GPS-like functionality and track other devices in real-time up to 2.5m accuracy. Apple confirmed the deal but refused to disclose its plans. The Cupertino, California-based company is trying to catch up with Google's largely more superior mapping service, as Apple's Maps app that replaced Google Maps in the latest iOS has been criticized for its inaccuracies and lack of certain features.

What Else You Need To Know

  • Apple rival Google already offers indoor maps in a dozen countries but most of its indoor navigation is limited to public buildings like airports, malls, train stations, sports stadiums and museums.
  • WiFiSlam was founded two years ago by a former Google intern Joseph Huang and engineer Darin Tay, along with Jessica Tsoong and Dave Millman.
  • The Wall Street Journal says Apple handed over $20 million to buy WiFiSlam.
  • Apple has acquired mapping-related companies over the years, including Placebase, C3 technologies, and Poly9 and used them to create features like Flyover in iOS 6 Maps.
  • Nokia, Samsung, Sony Mobile and nineteen other companies formed an "In-Location Alliance" last year to boost indoor positioning technologies.

Other sources

There’s territory left to conquer, but Apple has a long way to go… - Harrison Weber, The Next Web  
The move signals another step Apple is taking to improve its Maps presence, which was widely criticized when it replaced Google's existing Maps app in September. - Samantha Murphy, Mashable  
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