Apple Covertly Strengthens 'Maps' With Coherent Navigation Purchase

Apple launched its homegrown mapping solution, Maps, with iOS 6 back in 2012. Maps encountered more than a few unscheduled detours along the way and helped push one exec, Scott Forstall, out the door. Over the past few years, Maps has gained in competency and has become a well-rounded navigation solution, although one that isn’t quite as robust as perennial favorite Google Maps.

Apple is looking to give Maps yet another shot in the arm with the now confirmed acquisition of Coherent Navigation, a GPS firm that was founded in 2008. The deal was sniffed out by Mac Rumors earlier this morning and Apple confirmed the acquisition this afternoon to The New York Times, stating only, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple Maps app. Credit: Apple Inc.

Coherent Navigation has built its business around the development of High Integrity GPS (iGPS), which uses Iridium low-earth orbiting satellites in conjunction with mid-earth orbiting satellites to provide incredibly accurate location positioning — accuracy that is measured in inches instead of feet.

It’s interesting to note that Apple cribbed key members of the Coherent Navigation team over the past few months including company co-founders William Benzce and Brett Ledvina, along with president Paul Lego. Apple must have liked what it saw in these three transplants enough to take the whole company.

Coherent Navigation is just the latest in a long list of mapping/navigation-centered companies that Apple has gobbled up in in the past three years including WifiSLAM, Embark, and Locationary.