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Apple buys indoor GPS specialist WiFiSlam in $20m deal

And here you thought it was tricky enough to get the correct directions to your driving destination via the GPS-friendly app on your iPhone.

Apple's allegedly upping the ante in the world of location services by acquiring a company that could help give it more of a foothold in the relatively unexplored world of indoor mapping.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal's Jessica Lessin, Apple recently acquired WiFiSlam for approximately $20 million (£13.1m). The company specialises in a technology that allows mobile apps to pinpoint users' locations through the interaction between their smartphones and standard Wi-Fi signals – no GPS need apply.

According to MacRumors, Apple has confirmed the acquisition, but has offered no additional details as to what it plans to do going forward and/or how WiFiSlam technology might be integrated into Apple's product offerings.

However, the acquisition opens up the possibility that Apple could start making more headway in an area that rival Google has already start tinkering around in. According to one of Google's support pages, Google already has more than 10,000 different floor plans available for locations across 13 different countries — the company uses a mix of Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation and normal network tower-based location estimations to let users know exactly where they are in these Maps-friendly locations.

Although WiFiSlam doesn't actually have a website of its own – at least, not since the company was acquired and the site was pulled offline – the company's listing on the website AngelList indicates that WiFiSlam can deliver an accuracy of 2.5 metres "using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings."

Some are already considering Apple's move another "late to the game" attempt to catch up to Google's success in mapping, which brings to mind the Apple Maps debacle that occurred shortly following the company's introduction of its "Google Maps killer" in September of 2012. The company's first attempt to deliver a mapping and location service sans Google's involvement was met with immense criticism, and ultimately resulted in an apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook himself.