Apple made a very smart move leading into the weekend, acquiring public transit and navigation firm, HopStop. Apple confirmed the acquisition to AllThingsD, but didn’t release any details on what it plans to do with the service.
Apple spokeswoman, Kristin Huguet made the following statement regarding the acquisition; “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
HopStop is currently available on the iOS App Store as a navigation application, although it may later be removed as Apple determines how to manage the newly acquired service. It is very likely Apple will be including HopStop features in their own iOS Maps application.
When iOS Maps was first introduced in iOS 6, it didn’t go over too well with users, who complained the new Apple-sourced maps wasn’t really getting the job done. It had a number of issues from the get-go, including a bug that located some cities in the middle of the ocean, as well as incorrect street names and addresses.
However, the biggest and most frustrating change was likely Apple’s removal of public transit information. This was one of the more popular features of Google Maps that a lot of customers used. When Apple removed it, there were complaints from the public that the company had ruined what was a perfectly good app. Though Apple did bring back public transit info by linking back to Google’s Maps app for iOS from the native application, it required that customers download and install Google Maps on top of the existing Apple Maps. Now, with HopStop, users will finally be able to take advantage of much improved navigation as well as public transit info.
Apple’s Maps appears to be much faster and more usable in iOS 7, although it does still locate some places incorrectly. It appears Maps can understand that a user is in a particular country but doesn’t always fully recognize the state or city. For example, if I searched 42nd street and 6th avenue and I am driving through New York City, the Maps app may point me towards Chicago or New Jersey. This issue doesn’t come up all the time, but it does seem to happen enough for me to make note of it.
Hopefully, the acquisition of HopStop makes Apple Maps much more stable and can earn back some of the credibility that was lost with its introduction.