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Apple purchases HopStop, will likely integrate transit directions into Maps

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HopStop for iPhone
HopStop for iPhone

Apple is reportedly buying transit navigation app HopStop, according to a report from Bloomberg. A purchase would provide Apple with a solution for transit directions and navigation in its Maps app for iOS and OS X, something it lacks in comparison to Google Maps. HopStop offers public transit directions in over 500 cities (including 140 major metro areas) across the world, in addition to directions by foot and car, and has apps for both iOS and Android. Currently, Apple points users to third-party apps from the iOS App Store when they look for transit directions. Bloomberg cites anonymous sources in its report and the deal has not yet been made public.

HopStop has a lot of data in a lot of cities

Earlier today it was reported that Apple also purchased Locationary, a crowd-sourced location data company in an effort to improve its mapping product. Apple has had a rough time with its Maps app since it debuted with iOS 6 last year— it was instantly ridiculed for providing inaccurate directions and offering horribly distorted images of landmarks, and became a punching bag for late night comedians everywhere. Since then, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for the Maps experience, admitting that the company "fell short" of expectations. Cook even went on to suggest users try other mapping apps, and many have turned to Google's superior products instead of using the Apple services built in to their devices.

Apple has noticeably improved its Maps app since last year's launch, and today's announcements mean that it is continuing to put effort into making it a better product. HopStop is not the flashiest or highest rated transit app available these days, but it does have access to a lot of data in a lot of cities, which is likely what Apple is gunning for with this acquisition. Maps will be included as a native app with OS X Mavericks later this year, and will likely be a focal point of future iOS devices, giving Apple plenty of reason to put lots of resources towards it.

Update: Apple has confirmed its acquisition of HopStop in a statement provided to The Verge (first reported by All Things D), but did not elaborate as to how it will be using the company. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple in reference to the acquisition.