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Apple buys 2 startups to improve its mobile maps

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SAN FRANCISCO » Apple has bought online mapping services HopStop and Locationary as part of its ongoing efforts to create a more formidable alternative to Google’s navigation system.

The acquisitions confirmed today 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 until switching to its own system last year.

The switch turned into an embarrassment for Apple when iPhone and iPad users discovered the maps sometimes gave faulty directions and misplaced famous landmarks.

HopStop provides directions to major transit systems and biking routes, popular features on Google’s maps.

Locationary collects and analyzes data to help create more precise maps.

Terms of the acquisitions aren’t being disclosed.

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