Apple hires CEO of indoor location startup Wifarer; sparks speculation about Indoor Maps in iOS 8

Philip Stanger

Apple is rumored to be planning big changes for its Maps iOS app in iOS 8, including improvements to quality of data and transit integration. Another area Apple has expressed interest in is indoor location, and the company has taken another step forward in this direction by hiring Philip Stanger, the CEO of indoor positioning startup Wifarer.

Apple typically does a number of acqu-hires in areas that interest the company, but Stanger comes to Apple alone, while Wifarer continues to function independently.

TechCrunch reports:

Wifarer, a startup which offers tools to help consumers navigate malls, museums and other venues, was not acquired by Apple, we learned, while following up on some tips pointing in that direction. However, its CEO and founder Philip Stanger now works there in a “leadership role.”

There were the usual signs: the CEO changes his LinkedIn profile to indicate he works at Apple  – actually, as of February, it seems – and parts of the Wifarer website went dark. (Specifically, the page detailing the team.)

The report further notes that Stanger coming to Apple without his team is quite odd as he doesn’t seem to have technical experience. Wifarer’s indoor positioning system (IPS) tech is present on both iOS and Android devices, and the company uses WiFi or iBeacons to accurately position phones indoors.

TechCrunch speculates that either Apple didn’t want Wifarer’s IPS technology, or that Wifarer wasn’t willing to be acquired for the price Apple was willing to pay.

Last year, Apple acquired indoor location startup WifiSLAM for $20 million, and this hiring move further intensifies speculations of Apple adding indoor location to its Maps app. iOS 8 will improve the Maps app with improved points-of-interest data, public transit directions in select cities, augmented reality and indoor mapping.

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