Apple buys Locationary, a startup building a Wikipedia for location

Apple Maps directions

Apple has acquired a Canadian startup called Locationary, which uses crowdsourcing and game mechanics to create a database of up-to-date location and business information data, reports AllThingsD. Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Locationary’s investors include Extreme Venture Partners and Plazacorp Ventures.

Locationary CEO Grant Richie told us a couple years back that the dirty little secret of location-based services, like the ones that Google, Yelp and CitySearch use, is that some of their information is incorrect, based on outdated and inaccurate data. In addition not many of the services — which are powered by companies like¬†Axiom, Localeze and InfoUSA — talk to each other.

See that red pin? That's the actual location of Hotel Abri. But Yelp places it a block and half further west on Apple Maps.

To try to solve this problem, the Toronto-based startup links the major location and business listing services in a database, and the company also creates incentive for users to update listings with the most correct and up-to-date information. Locationary pays users to connect location to all the different services, from Yelp to Google to Foursquare, so that updated information is synchronized across platforms. Locationary’s business model is to then sell access to the data back to the location services.

But now that it has acquired the company, Apple will no doubt use Locationary’s location data services to make its maps much more accurate. There was considerable backlash over the deficiencies of Apple Maps, which launched late last year, and Apple CEO Tim Cook even issued an apology about the mapping product.

Watch our video interview with Richie:

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