Apple buys HopStop, Locationary to improve mapping services

July 20, 2013 -- Apple has bought online mapping services HopStop and Locationary as part of its ongoing effort to create a more formidable alternative to Google's navigation system.

The acquisitions confirmed Friday give Apple Inc. more tools to round out the maps that it embeds in the mobile operating system running its iPhones and iPads. Apple relied on Google Inc. for the built-in maps on those devices.

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.

Locationary's Saturn product serves as a database that centralizes and distributes business-related information like marketing and merchant data. Companies connect with the Saturn API, upload, change and export that information, as well as download profiles for other businesses available in the Saturn data catalog.

Apple could use the technology to add, aggregate and otherwise manage the information that appears in its in-house mapping software. Developers could also use the presumably robust business and location data in augmented reality games. Last year, for example,  Google launched Ingress, an AR game for Android that used real-world location data for in-game activities.

Multiple sources familiar with the deal informed All Things D of the acquisition. An Apple spokesperson stopped short of explicitly confirming it, saying only that the company "buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

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