Apple may buy social navigation app Waze to bolster Maps

Apple logoApple may be considering buying social navigation app maker Waze in order to improve the faltering iOS 6 Maps. Rumors of talks between the two companies come just weeks after rumors that Apple may also be working on a deal to acquire or share data with social check-in service Foursquare.

After apologizing for the incomplete state of iOS 6's integrated Maps, Apple CEO Tim Cook appointed SVP of Internet Service Eddy Cue to take over and fix Maps' problems. Shortly thereafter, Cue posted his first Foursquare check-ins on Twitter, followed a week later by a Wall Street Journal report confirming the two companies were in early talks to integrate business location data from Foursquare.

Now, Apple may be looking at integrating data from Waze, a sort of crowd-sourced navigation app. We took a look at the app recently when Cook recommended it as a Maps alternative, and its users let us know how much they depend on the app when commuting through traffic. Users can report accidents, road closings, red light cameras, and gas prices. The service also learns how to route you depending on your usual commute time and your preferred streets.

Israeli website NewsGeek cited sources claiming talks between Waze and Apple are early. But apparently the cash-flush Apple has already floated a $500 million price to acquire the company along with its technologies and engineers. Such an acquisition might be convenient for Apple since it recently opened an engineering research center in Hafia, Israel.

Waze's crowdsourced routing data could improve Maps current directions as well as its traffic data. It could also serve as a source of up-to-date, corrected street data, sort of like a crowdsourced version of Google's Street View cars.

(It's perhaps an interesting coincidence, but the Waze app already integrates with Foursquare for point-of-interest and check-in data.)

Apple is no stranger to acquiring companies to improve its own technologies. The company bought PlaceBase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies in order to shore up its mapping data backend. According to these latest rumors, Cue appears ready to throw more money at the Maps problem.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, iOS, smartphones

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