iOS 9 has continued to make Apple Maps better by introducing transit directions to the mix. Unfortunately, they’ve been relatively slow-to-roll out, with transit directions available in 11 cities. But yesterday, Apple quietly updated its site, indicating that transit directions for Boston, Massachusetts and Sydney, Australia are imminent.
It looks like HopStop is doing the walk of shame back from Apple’s apartment. The city transit mapping service is shutting down as of this October. Apple acquired HopStop in 2013 and seems to have used up just about all of the data it wants for its own Maps app, so the folks in Cupertino have apparently moved on.
The appropriately named Transit app for iPhone has already gotten a lot of love in the App Store, including Editor’s Choice, and it is getting featured again because of a major update that’s out today.
Transit is designed to provide you with realtime data on public bus and train systems in 62 metropolitan areas around the world. Today’s update includes a more streamlined way of figuring out the right route to take, the ability to search locations using stop codes, a drastically improved offline mode, and more.
It was widely reported in January that Apple was in talks to buy Waze, an Israeli startup with a hugely popular maps app. Waze was rumored to be asking Apple for $750 million. The same outlet that broke the acquisition rumor quickly backpedaled and said no such deal was taking place. Google ended up buying Waze in June for $1 billion.
And so goes the buyout game in Silicon Valley, a power play where tech giants like Apple and Google court hot startups with the hopes of adding them to their war chests.
Apple had its biggest year ever for acquisitions in 2013, with a record 15 smaller companies joining the fold. A dozen of them have now been publicly disclosed.
For an entity as secretive as Apple, examining the companies it buys is one of the only ways to peek into its future plans. When AuthenTec, a company that specialized in fingerprint readers and identification software, was purchased in July 2012, speculation immediately followed. What did Apple want with fingerprint sensors? The answer ended up being obvious, and the technology debuted in Touch ID in September 2013.
Often the outcome of an Apple acquisition isn’t so immediately apparent.
Historically, Apple acquires far fewer companies than its competitors. But the line is starting to blur. Google publicly bought three times as many companies as Apple in 2012 and not even twice as many in 2013. Apple bought more companies than Microsoft in 2013.
So what does all of this say about Apple’s future?
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with Apple Maps in its current iOS 6 incarnation, but many people have. Now that Google Maps is out for iOS, though, there’s an easy way to get around using Apple Maps, using the transit option.