Apple Buys Embark, Another Public Transit App Maker

| Analysis

Apple has embarked in another effort to beef up its public transit mapping infrastructure with the purchase of Embark Inc. Former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin exclusively reported that Apple bought the company and acquired the team at Embark, though terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Embark is but two years old, having been founded in 2011, and the company makes free apps for several markets in the U.S. that provide public transit and mass transit information, offline trip planning, interactive maps, schedules, and Push alerts for delays on your route.

The screenshots below show some of the company's Embark NYC Subway app.

Embark Screenshots

Embark NYC Subway Screenshots
(Map on the left, Advisories on the right)

The company used to make Android and iOS apps, but as is the case with every company that Apple has purchased, the Android versions of Embark's apps are kaput, while the iOS versions remain on the App Store. They're listed below.

Apple also tends to pull the iOS apps once the resulting technology or services are successfully rolled into an Apple service. It's not clear if Embark's purchase will affect the rollout of iOS 7 in September, but this is the third maps-related acquisition Apple has made in the last few weeks that we know about.

In July, it was learned that Apple bought Locationary and HopStop. Apple confirmed the purchase of Embark with Ms. Lessin, and offered the boilerplate response of, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Apple is clearly committed to shoring up its Apple Maps product, which was first released in September of 2012 to critical reviews. Transit data, in particular, is an area where competitors, including Google, are ahead of Apple. These purchases should narrow help that gap considerably.

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