Apple acquires navigation service Hopstop

Apple has snapped up local transit and directions service Hopstop to bolster its mapping services.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

Apparently Locationary isn't the only location-based company Apple's bought up recently.

Citing sources, Bloomberg on Friday reported that Apple has acquired New York-based local navigation company Hopstop, which specializes in local transit directions.

Apple confirmed the purchase late Friday afternoon, though did not go into detail about what it intends to do with the company.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple spokeswoman told CNET.

Transit directions are currently one of Apple's mapping weaknesses since the company rolled out its own homegrown maps inside of 2012's iOS 6. People looking for buses, trains, or subway directions are currently sent to third-party navigational apps if installed, taking users outside of Apple's own mapping software.

Per Hopstop's about page, here are some of the services it provides -- both through its Web site and mobile apps for iOS and Android:

  • Get directions or find nearby subway stations and bus stops with our free mobile apps.
  • Send directions by e-mail directly from our Web site.
  • Plan a trip with multiple destinations.
  • Estimate travel time and cost for a taxi.
  • Get estimates for calories burned and carbon emissions savings for your route.
  • Find wheelchair-accessible and stroller-friendly routes.
  • Check out real-time alerts and planned service changes.
  • See transit maps and schedules.
  • Do nearby station searches.

Earlier on Friday a report from All Things Digital noted that Apple had purchased Locationary, a location-based data company that blended data from multiple sources, including things like business listings and products and services.

Apple has said it's putting more resources into improving its mapping service following a very rocky rollout that brought an apology from company CEO Tim Cook, and led in part to the ouster of former iOS software chief Scott Forstall. The service is making the jump from iOS to Apple's desktop software, OS X, later this year, further raising its profile with consumers.

It remains unclear what will happen to the Android version of Hopstop's service, though past history suggests it's nothing good. Shortly after purchasing mobile application search and discovery service Chomp early last year, Apple weeded out Android results, then shut it down entirely.

Updated at 2:59 p.m. PT with confirmation from Apple.