One of the more typical pursuit of the tech writer these days is to not simply report on what Apple’s doing, but to make bold predictions (or, in reality, guesses) about what Apple is planning. And this year, there’s been plenty to guess about, as Apple CEO Tim Cook said in October that the company has acquired 15 companies in 2013.

One such company was PrimeSense, the company behind the original Kinect’s 3D mapping, and which is speculated to have been purchased to boost Apple’s beleaguered mapping efforts. That’s why today’s report on 9to5Mac makes sense; the site says that Apple has also acquired BroadMap, a tech firm that specializes in “managing, sorting, and analyzing mapping data.”

The post notes that Apple’s new maps initiative will likely be brought into iOS 8, which makes lots of sense. Google Maps is pretty fantastic, but there’s no way that Apple is happy to concede its users to its rival’s service (and all the potential ad revenue that goes with it). Apple needs a big win with mapping, and bringing BroadMap and PrimeSense into the fold are great ways to actually get this done.

Moreover, the post points out that sources say the acquisition isn’t simply about BroadMap’s technology, but rather its “talent,” and shows that the former BroadMap employees have been working at Apple’s Maps Team since this past Spring.

The questions that really remain are whether or not these acquisitions will be enough to close the gap between Apple Maps and Google’s relatively unbeatable service. It’s not perfect, but—at least in my experience—I’ve had some pretty excellent experiences using Google Maps over the last few years. The service’s integration into Android-powered phones doesn’t hurt, making the interface feel seamless and pretty frustration-free.

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Will Apple have enough time to make a service as good as Google’s? And—this is important—does Apple have what it takes to actually surpass Google Maps? It’d be great if Apple could match Google Maps, but what the company really needs is a way to outpace Google’s service. Otherwise, users will never see the service as anything but an imitator.

What kinds of innovations could Apple provide in its mapping services that Google has overlooked? Personally, I have no idea, but part of Apple’s secret sauce is figuring out what consumers didn’t know that they ever needed or wanted. Doing so with maps would be quite a coup.


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