In a move that could improve the quality of Apple Maps, the Cupertino tech company has purchased WiFiSlam, a Silicon Valley start-up that specializes in indoor mapping.
Apple paid $20 million for the acquisition, saying it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple, however, did not disclose its plans for the start-up.
The 2-year-old WiFiSlam has developed technology that makes it possible for phones to detect users’ locations inside buildings by using Wi-Fi signals. The company has tried to sell its technology to other developers who want to build indoor mapping software or retail apps.
One obvious use for WiFiSlam could be its implementation into Apple Maps, the company’s mapping and navigation software for the iPhone and other Apple devices.
After launching last September, Apple Maps suffered a critical backlash by users who were upset that they could no longer use the pre-installed Google Maps. Adding indoor GPS information to the app could be one way of improving Apple Maps and drawing more users back.
Google, Apple’s biggest rival in the mapping world, already has technology that shows users indoor maps for some retailers and places such as airports in the U.S. By purchasing WiFiSlam, Apple may just be trying to keep pace with Google.