Apple (AAPL) Buys Indoor Navigation Startup WifiSLAM, Report

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reports that Apple (AAPL) has acquired indoor location mapping firm WifiSlam for around $20 million. While Cupertino did confirm the acquisition, it didn’t give specifics of the deal or what it plans to do with the startup’s indoor GPS technology.

“[Apple] buys smaller tech companies from time to time,” an Apple spokesman told the Journal, declining further comment.

While the acquisition is hardly large, considering Apple’s $137+ billion cash reserves, it clearly suggests that the company is hard at work on adding new features to its much criticized iOS Maps service.

The two-year-old Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, which was co-founded by former Google (GOOG) software engineering intern Joseph Huang along with Jessica Tsoong, claims to have developed ways to locate a smartphone user’s location with up to eight feet of accuracy using the surrounding Wi-Fi signals.

Apple has acquired numerous mapping-related companies over the years, including Placebase, Poly9, and C3 technologies. With its acquisition of WifiSlam, which will undoubtedly be an important asset for the company in the competition against Google’s dominant mapping service, Apple seems to be adding a new focus on indoor location tracking.

Nothing is yet known on the possible implementation of the service into Apple’s new maps app.

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