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Mystery solved: Apple vans gathering next-gen Maps data, grabbing Street View storefronts + 3D images

Apple Van

Three years after Apple launched its own iOS Maps app to replace Google as its iPhone and iPad map provider, the Cupertino company is readying its first major enhancements to the service. While Apple was known to be gearing up for the launch of a mass transit directions service this fall in a handful of cities, sources have revealed that it is also developing its first entirely in-house mapping database to reduce its reliance on TomTom, using a fleet of mysterious vans to take still photos of business storefronts to replace Yelp photos, and building a 3D Street View feature. Apple has been using the sensor-equipped vans in cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York since earlier this year, and, below, we detail how the vehicles are advancing Apple’s plans for the future of Maps…



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Apple confirms acquisition of Swell as website and app shut down

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 9.51.55 AM

Apple’s acquisition of talk-radio service Swell appears to now be a done deal: the start-up’s App Store app and website shut down this morning. The website now provides the following message:

Thank you for using Swell over the past year. We wanted to let you know that the Swell service is no longer available. We’ve been inspired by the opportunity to create quality products that positively impact users’ lives, and we are grateful to all our listeners. Thank you everyone for your support!



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Apple acquired mapping firm BroadMap’s talent, location-infused Evernote competitor Catch

Apple HQ in Cupertino

<a href="http://benjaminfeenstra.com/2012/11/google-vs-apple/">Apple HQ in Cupertino</a>

Apple has been on a roll this year in terms of acquisitions. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Cupertino firm acquired 15 companies this year, but only ten have been revealed. That list includes mapping companies such as Embark, chip makers like Passif, search specialists such as Cue and Topsy, and hardware companies such as PrimeSense. Because only 10 of the 15 Apple acquisitions of 2013 have been revealed, we have been digging and asking around to find the few remaining Apple pickups. Based on evidence and chatter from sources, Apple seemingly acquired mapping firm BroadMap in the first half of this year and Evernote-competitor Catch within the last few months…



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