Apple buys online transit-navigation service HopStop

“Apple Inc. agreed to buy online transit-navigation service HopStop.com Inc., people with knowledge of the deal said, seeking to improve mapping tools after a rocky debut for its directions software last year,” Peter Burrows and Sarah Frier report for Bloomberg. “The people asked not to be identified because the deal isn’t public.”

“HopStop shows users in more than 500 cities the fastest way to travel by foot, bike, subway and car; Locationary deploys real-time data from a variety of sources to help users find featured businesses,” Burrows and Frier report. “HopStop, based in New York, provides directions for more than 140 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and six other countries, according to its website.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One thing Apple will have a difficult time buying: Respect for their Maps app, no matter how superior it gets over all others (and many parts of it already are – and even were at launch).

It’s unfortunate, but first impressions were badly mishandled by Apple (a simple “beta” tag would have sufficed) and it will take a herculean effort to reverse the public misperception now.

Related articles:
Apple escalates maps war by nabbing Locationary – July 19, 2013
Apple acquires crowdsourced location data company Locationary – July 19, 2013
Google’s new 3D Maps destroy Manhattan with melting buildings and buckled streets – May 22, 2013
U.S. patent application reveals Apple is working on ‘Street View’ mapping technology – April 4, 2013
Apple acquires indoor location company WifiSLAM for $20 million – March 23, 2013

28 Comments

  1. Now this is a good acquisition by Apple. Smart, sensible and will be of great benefit to them in near and foreseeable future. Ill digress I’ve been using the google maps app more than anything due to a couple navigation mishaps early on with apple maps but I’m definitely looking forward to giving it another whirl with ios7.

  2. One thing I really like in Apple’s map app has been the skeuomorphic directional signs, but they are going away with iOS 7. You don’t have to be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with tech to appreciate signs that look like signs.

    Context, Apple. Context.

    But any improvements in the data and functionality are a good thing.

    MDN’s point about a “beta” label is spot on.

    1. I have no actual data here, but I’m guessing all hints at the real world are not going to disappear with iOS7. It’s good to have a virtual directional sign in a map app. It lets you instantly process the information within that sign as you would a real world sign.

      What are not needed are superfluous details, like the virtual rivets that hold the virtual sign to the virtual (but not visible) post. That expectation gets rid of the virtual pigskin grain and fake stitching so obtrusively present, yet absolutely non-functional, in some of the current apps.

          1. I think Maps is pretty clean right now, I’ll have to keep an eye out for the divots. Mac Smiley expressed concern that the direction signs were going to go away with iOS7 and the presumed skeuomorphic purge. I was only saying that I think useful real world cues will remain, while superfluous ones will be eliminated. The leather and such from other apps are likely to be gone with iOS7, I think. The divots, er rivets, were hyperbole.

  3. I don’t agree that a herculean effort will be needed. Time will heal this wound. Maps ships on every device, and selling tens of millions brings a lot of people into contact with a map service that works.

    ***

    Heck, hasn’t Apple gone out of business six times since Maps was released? /s (In other words, public attention has moved on to other stories de jour)

    1. MDN keeps saying that, but I don’t agree with them, either, Jim. What it will take is some targeted advertising from Apple along with a lot of development investment (already in progress) and a public media team that jumps on the FUD and the FUDsters as quickly as possible.

      1. I think Apple is handling Maps wisely after the poor debut reception. It has moved very quickly to correct the melting bridge Mage problems (which Google is still experiencing). Adding additional data sources is wise, and will dramatically improve Maps before Apple starts a new Maps campaign.

  4. I disagree, I think Apple Maps will work out fine. As it was I was having no problems with Apple maps. Adding features properly should make it just as popular as Google maps. As it gets more integrated with the rest of the IOS apps I see it as a standard that most people will use in the future. I don’t use Google maps because I don’t have too.

  5. Surely an awful lot of what maps will be used for will be built into Apple apps and software so people wont even think about their origin as long as they work well. And if they do work well then other apps will want to join in to and get seamless access that others will find difficult to match on the platform. So no i don’t think in a few years the initial damage will be relevant for the most part.

  6. Whoa. So Locationary and HopStop at almost the same time. Apple is seriously addressing weaknesses in its Maps app. I suspect that about a year from now, when web sites are comparing Google maps to Maps, Apple’s version will meet or exceed all of Google’s capabilities.

    1. It already does. I had an appointment yesterday and had 5 minutes to find an address. I was in one of those residential subdivisions that resemble rat mazes, and Google got me hopelessly lost. It didn’t list turns that had to be made when the street name didn’t change after the turn. On top of that I had to detour from Google’s suggested route due to construction. Apple maps saved the day. I was able to navigate right to the front door using the little blue dot.

      1. Zeledon you are a smart man. What could have possessed you to use Google maps to begin with if you already has access to apple maps?

        I use apple maps almost daily to plan my routes between clients, estimate arrival time and find the best route. One of my recent clients was off on a dirt road in the desert and Apple maps world like a champ.

  7. What is sad and irritating is that a lot of those who own an iPhone believe that the maps app on their device is google maps.

    I have had to show friends, acquaintances and relatives that the map app is actually apple maps. I also have convinced a lot of them to use yahoo since it defaults to the maps app.

  8. HopStop is an absolutely awesome app. I use it almost every day. It accounts for service changes on public transportation, too and is right 99% of the time. Great, great acquisition.

  9. I hope this starts to improve location appropriate searching on Apple Maps. I’ve stopped using it despite feeling a real sense of regret every time I open Google maps instead of Apple’s offering. I live in London and whilst the Apple maps themselves are accurate (largely) it’s location appropriate search is absolutely awful. If I’m looking for a famous landmark or shop it’s so often wrong or unable to find a result that I give up in disgust or worse suggests something in a completely different city. If I use a postcode it’s fine so it’s clearly not processing the request correctly. I’ve also got frustrated with no corrections being made to clearly invalid data despite reporting the same mistake dozens of times and google maps having the correct version. If I lived in Timbuktu this might be acceptable but in the heart of one of the most important cities in the world this is a joke. Come on Apple fix it quickly so I don’t have to keep dipping into Google Maps. Directions on the other hand (if it can find your intended location) are fabulous.

  10. MDN’s take on “public misperception” is garbage.

    Anyone who lives outside the US knows just how behind Apple’s map data is. They need to knuckle down and address the issues – it shouldn’t take years to update their maps, but for some reason it is.

    1. Sorry but you are wrong. It should indeed take them years, and it took Google many years. Maps data is very difficult and orders of magnitude harder than any other large data project that apple has ever managed and there is a learning curve.

      I agree apple needs to address this, I disagree that it’s easy or even possible to fix quickly.

  11. Even as a huge apple fan that MacDailyNews Take was horribly biased…. Apple Definitely does most things better than google but maps is one thing they are not better at. Voice recognition is another…live recognition beats thinking about it. When I need to go somewhere apple maps too often cannot figure out what i am saying while if I open google I’m correctly directed on the FIRST TRY.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.