Apple has always been willing to grow its resources via merger but this year the Cupertino company has been on an acquisition spree, purchasing a variety of startups and established companies in an effort to bolster its products. With companies like Hopstop, Embark, and the newly-purchased Algotrim now under its belt, Apple has the ability to incorporate a wealth of new technology into its hardware and software. From transit app creators to video streaming groups, here are Apple's biggest acquisitions of 2013.
One of the biggest companies picked up by Apple this year, HopStopoffersmass transit directions software that is used by over 2 million people on the web and mobile devices. The HopStop app solves the ever-prevalent problem of getting lost on the subway, as it tells users exactly which trains and buses they can take to their destination. HopStop initially served the subway systems of major U.S. cities, though it has since expanded worldwide to countries such as the U.K., France, New Zealand, Sweden. While Apple hasn't announced exactly how they'll take advantage of HopStop's software, it will almost undoubtedly implement the transit app into its own Maps app. Apple's map application may still be playing second fiddle to Google Maps, but the company's new alliance with HopStop can help them get back on top.
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Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video are becoming the de-facto sources of on-demand movies and TV, and the folks at Matcha found a way to aggregate each service's offerings into a TV Guide for the internet age. Matcha's website and iOS app give personalized recommendations for users across a wealth of streaming sites, including HBO GO, Crackle, and the big three mentioned above. If you use Matcha and were wondering why its website wen't dark, it's because Apple scooped them up. This acquisition is likely an effort to bolster the company's Apple TV product. After all, who wouldn't want an Apple TV device that houses all of your Netflix, HBO, and Hulu recommendations on one screen? More: 40 Best Free Apps for iPhone
Apple's latest small business acquisition, AlgoTrim is a Sweden-based company that creates media solutions optimized for minimal memory usage. The startup has been helping companies compress data since 2005 and its Code Compression Library has been utilized in a variety of mobile devices. With a new iPhone and operating system about to launch, Apple can use AlgoTrim's products to provide a smoother overall experience for iOS users. There will be a slew of new apps and functions that will arrive alongside iOS 7, and AlgoTrim's software can help ensure that they can all be used simultaneously with minimal slowdown.
Just a month after picking up HopStop, Apple bought one of the subway app's rivals. Embark has become a major player in the world of travel apps ever since it launched for iOS, and won the MTA's "App Quest" contest in 2012. While HopStop offers a worldwide index of subway routes, Embark takes a more personalized local approach by offering 10 separate, free apps for major U.S. cities such as New York City and San Francisco Apple more than likely picked up Embark for the same reasons it purchased HopStop. The current version of iOS Maps sends users to external apps like Embark and HopStop when transit directions are requested, but Apple could seamlessly integrate these services into a future version of Maps with the help of these new acquisitions. More: 15 Best Apps for Students
One of Apple's earliest acquisitions of the year, WiFiSlam is a GPS company that allows smartphone movement to be detected indoors by using existing Wi-Fi networks. The startup has been developing its unique technology for two years with the goal of creating a product that can enhance indoor navigation, point-of-sale systems, and location-based social media services. Apple's $20 million acquisition of WiFiSlam opens up a whole world of possibilities for the iPhone maker. WiFiSlam's technology could allow the Maps app to work at an indoor, step-by-step level, and can make the iPhone an even more capable device for checking-in to locations and taking advantage of proximity-based promotions.
While Apple has picked up a variety of well-known software developers over the past year, the company also made sure to cover a few hardware bases. Apple recently acquired Passif, a Silicon Valley-based communication chip maker that specialized in low-energy products. What could this pickup mean for the future of the iPhone? With iOS 7 set to have more location-based features than ever, Passif's chips can help ensure that your phone won't be drained after passively interacting with any shops or restaurants you walk by throughout the day. The manufacturer's technology could also be implemented in Apple's "iOS in the Car" as well as its rumored iWatch device.
Rounding out Apple's trio of map-based acquisitions is Locationary, a data startup that allows businesses to make their location information consistent throughout the web. From addresses to company names, Locationary's platform helps ensure that business profiles are as error-free as possible. While the acquisition of HopStop and Embark will allow Apple to provide quality subway directions, Locationary's assets will help Apple make Maps more accurate than ever for those looking up specific establishments. With three major location-based companies in tow, Apple might finally be able to craft a map application that people won't skip over for Google's navigator.