Apple buys navigation technology start-up

Apple's bought at least 27 companies over the last year and half, and here's one of them

Apple Inc., still trying to convince burned consumers it’s headed in the right direction in maps technology, is bringing on a GPS specialist to help.

Silicon Valley start-up Coherent Navigation combines signals from traditional GPS satellites with those from private sector satellites in lower orbit for high-precision location readings.

The company’s technology could be critical to developing self-driving cars and improving the often criticized Maps app on the iPhone.

Apple launched Maps in 2012 to great embarrassment. The program was filled with so many bugs and mis-directions — suggesting people drive into bodies of water, for one — it had to direct users to alternatives like Google Maps. Apple’s Maps team hasn’t had it easy since. Internal bickering and turnover have stalled updates, according to reports. The app still doesn’t have transit directions, for example.

MacRumors first spotted the Coherent Navigation acquisition Sunday. Apple rarely discloses the acquisitions of small start-ups, but Chief Executive Tim Cook told analysts last month that he’s done 27 deals over the previous 18 months.

Apple hasn’t disclosed any plans, but it is reportedly researching electric car development and is among the few Silicon Valley companies with enough cash to explore self-driving vehicles.

In March, Uber confirmed it planned to buy deCarta, a San Jose-based digital mapmaker.

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