Apple's new toy takes Maps indoors

24th Mar 2013 | 18:10

Apple's new toy takes Maps indoors

Purchase may help the improving Maps app tackle Google

Apple is hoping to boost its much-maligned Maps application by acquiring a start-up location service that pinpoints a user's position when they're indoors.

The company has paid a reported $20 million (UK£13.1, AUD$19.1) for the two-year-old WiFiSLAM company, which uses local Wi-Fi signals to identify the exact location of a device when GPS isn't available.

The Silicon Valley-based company currently licenses its technology to retailers and social networks, such as supermarket apps that guide users to products within the store.

"Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling, confirming the deal to the Wall Street Journal

A boost for Maps?

WiFiSLAM was co-founded by former Google engineer George Huang and has a "handful" of employees in Palo Alto.

The acquisition gives Apple the opportunity to challenge the Google Maps platform, which already offers indoor maps for some shopping centres, airports and museums.

Apple's own Maps platform is in need of a boost, although the service has steadily improved since the "unfinished" application was launched within iOS 6 back in October last year.

CEO Tim Cook was forced into a humbling apology following the outcry and ridicule that followed Apple's decision to dump the popular Google Maps app for its own solution.

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