September 14, 2015

Can Apple Rely on Navigation-Based Start-Ups to Take on Google Maps?

By Lauren C.

The rivalry between Apple and Google is well documented. The Tek Team has done its part by highlighting the power struggle between the two giants, including their numerous courtroom battles and the two companies’ reluctant partnership fostered from a shared interest in advertisement revenues.

The latest revelation to showcase the ongoing tension between the two is Apple’s shutdown of HopStop, a free mobile app that gives walking, biking, taxi, and transit directions in over 300 worldwide cities. Starting October, 2015, Apple has decided to part ways with this frequently used service. But why?

In 2013, Apple acquired HopStop, telling a publication at the time that-“we (Apple) buy smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Most critics argue that Apple bought the service in order to compete with Google Maps.


Since then, Apple has transferred much of the technology from HopStop directly into Apple Maps itself. Finally, after several years, Apple now has public transit directions officially running within its own mapping service. So now that Apple has gotten what it needed most from the standalone app HopStop, there’s really no more reason to continue the partnership from Apple’s perspective.

Beyond HopStop

Apple has been working tirelessly to improve itself in many other ways, which ties into the company distancing itself from HopStop. Recently, Apple allowed its own vehicle fleet, similar to Google Street View cars, to drive around and gather information by collecting data, taking pictures of storefronts, and more. By gathering this data, it allows Apple to no longer rely on Google Maps or other mapping services’ data for their direction information, because they can now use their own data collections exclusively for Apple Maps. You can check out Apple’s website to see exactly where their data collection fleet is driving to collect this data.

Another interesting move that Apple made this year was acquiring Coherent Navigation, which is a company that develops highly precise navigation systems. Coherent Navigation has a great capacity in location-tracking services, which Apple could use to bolster their own expertise in this area. Location-tracking services provides information about local businesses in the area.

After Apple acquires the data and knowledge that Coherent Navigation has, will they eventually part ways with them, like they did with HopStop? Only time can tell.

Apple Maps on Par with Google Maps

These recent Apple Map changes, coupled with the latest revelations from the Apple iPhone 6 event, bring up the Google-Apple feud to the forefront of our minds once again. While both companies furiously invest in more advanced and accurate mapping services, mapping services themselves are becoming more ingrained in phones, tablets, computers, and even automobiles. Mapping services that were started before the rise of smartphones and tablets are now essential in the digital age.

In 2012, Apple asserted that they already had more business listings than Google. Apple, of course, has struggled with its own mapping system, which is why they have taken several of the steps here to improve their services. We will see how far Apple goes to continue competing with the number one mapping service, Google Maps.


What do you think about Apple dumping HopStop and acquiring Coherent Navigation? Do you think Apple Maps will surpass Google Maps? Let us know in your comments!

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