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Apple Purchases Software Company Embark to Improve Maps

Apple Inc. said it bought navigation-software company Embark Inc., part of an effort to improve the performance of its mapping system after a bungled debut last year.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Apple, which dropped Google Inc.’s map service last year in favor of its own, has purchased several navigation software companies. At the time, Apple’s own map software was plagued with errors, for which Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized.

Last month, Apple agreed to buy online transit-navigation service Inc. and Locationary Inc., which is focused on business-location maps. Earlier this year, Apple also purchased WifiSLAM, a maker of location-identifying technology for when a smartphone user is inside a building.

Embark’s software for smartphones provides information about public transportation, something Apple left out of its map service when it debuted last year. Embark was backed by Y Combinator, a startup incubator based in Mountain View, California, among others.

The purchase of Embark was first reported by technology reporter Jessica Lessin.

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