It had a rough start, but Apple Maps has come a long way from what it was at launch. And the push isn't over. Apple just picked up a little startup called Locationary that specialises in hyperlocal results. You can bet that will trickle down into Apple Maps soon.
Locationary's special talent is rounding up crowdsourced data from users to maintain an active, up-to-date listing of the local business in any given area. It's a sort of Wikipedian approach to keeping local listings current, so that you don't wind up navigating to a store that hasn't existed in years, or at least can prevent it from happening to others if it happens to you.
Locationary's CEO Grant Ritchie wrote a post for TechCrunch last year about how exactly Apple could go about solving its map problems, including solutions like licensing location data from commercial providers. Or, you know, acquiring a startup that specialises in that. And by putting a crowdsourcing tool right into Maps, Apple would instantly increase Locationary's pool of potential contributors by billions. However good Locationary was before, it stands to be exponentially better with a bigger crowd to source. And while it would definitely be nice for us end-users to have better Maps data, the move probably isn't just about improving navigation quality; location data is super important for effective, specific ads.
How much money changed hands is still hidden in shadow, but according to AllThingsD, the purchase includes the tech and the team. Who knows how long it'll be before Locationary bonuses start popping out of Apple Maps proper, but it's good to know there's more coming. Somebody needs to keep Google Maps on its toes. [AllThingsD]