Apple has reportedly hired the cofounder and CEO of indoor location startup Wifarer for a "leadership role" — but did not acquire the company — in yet another sign that the iPhone maker is gearing up for a strong mapping push in its next-generation mobile operating system.
Wifarer cofounder Philip Stanger is said to have joined Apple in February, leaving his own company in the hands of a new CEO. The move was first noticed by TechCrunch.
Stanger's background is somewhat nontraditional for an Apple technical hire, the publication noted, as he attended Johns Hopkins and Yale before stints at the BBC and Paramount Pictures. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from those institutions, according to his LinkedIn profile.
It is possible that Stanger was brought in to help with the user-facing components of a new indoor location strategy for Apple's maps. "Indoor GPS" company WifiSLAM was acquired by Apple last march, but that acquisition brought engineering expertise and "core technology" rather than an existing consumer product.
No other Wifarer employees appear to have made the jump to Apple with Stanger, and it is unknown why Apple did not acquire the firm outright. As noted by TechCrunch, Wifarer has a number of pending location-related U.S. patents.
Apple is widely expected to make maps a priority in iOS 8 after the function received a largely cosmetic makeover in iOS 7. The company will likely leverage previous acquisitions Embark, HopStop, BroadMap, and Locationary to provide improved geolocation, more detailed point-of-interest data, and public transit routing.