Apple buys transit-app maker Embark

Apple has purchased another company that deals in local map data. This time it's Embark, a company that specializes in public-transit information and directions.

Josh Lowensohn
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.
2 min read
Embark's New York City app.
Embark's New York City app. Embark

Apple has picked up another mapping company, its third this year.

The tech giant recently snapped up Embark, a company with myriad localized transit apps for cities like New York, San Francisco, and London, reports Jessica Lessin.

Apple confirmed the deal, saying it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time," but would not go into detail about the future of the service. Embark CEO David Hodge declined to comment.

Embark was one of several location app makers who got a big boost following Apple's rollout of its own mapping software in iOS 6. Within the first week of that software launching, Embark said it saw the biggest spike in downloads and activity since the service launched.

According to Lessin, Apple plans to build Embark's technology into its own software, presumably to replace the public transit features in Apple Maps. As it stands, the app directs users to try their route in any third-party transit apps that may be installed, as well as directing them toward such apps in the App Store.

The purchase is Apple's latest in a series. In just the past month, it's been revealed that Apple has purchased location-based-data company Locationary, as well as local-navigation company Hopstop, which provides a service similar to Embark's. In addition, Apple has picked up Oakland-based Passif Semiconductor (a deal that was also reported by Lessin), along with video guide andrecommendation service Matcha.TV.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple has been buying a company every month or two. "We are always looking, and if anything, we will do more of that in the future," Cook said at the All Things Digital Conference in May.

Here's a brief promotional video by Embark, showing how the service works in New York: