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Apple: What do our Maps need? Stalk-yer-buddies Foursquare tech, NATCH!

Why go down the old 'make better maps' route?

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Apple has been talking to location-based social network Foursquare in a bid to sex up Apple Maps, it has been reported.

After bringing the Google Maps app back to iOS, Apple is now looking for ways to improve its own much-criticised Maps product. And it looks like Apple execs think Foursquare data - which includes user tips, venue information and social networking elements - is one way to do it.

The talks, reported by anonymous sources to the Wall Street Journal, are said to be at a preliminary stage. But Apple's Eddy Cue, senior veep of Software and Services, is said to be involved - suggesting that Apple is serious about making deals.

Apple has already pursued deals with Yelp to draw in venue information into Apple Maps.

But the connection with Foursquare is interesting, because Foursquare is more than just compiler of location data; it's a social network. It combines tips, venue details and social connections that allow users to "check in" to venues, and - rather creepily - broadcasts their location to nearby friends.

It could be just the user tips that Apple is interested in, or it could be looking towards cracking social location in a way that tech companies have been trying to do for years. A social element to Apple Maps would certainly be one way to give it an edge over the rival Google product.

After all - Apple has just built in an interesting share-your-location tool into Apple Maps on iOS6 - AroundMe. Although Google, of course, has had Latitude since 2009.

iPhones are capable of minutely tracking and storing location information about their users and storing it in secret files, until the feature was discovered by two security researchers and obfuscated in a software update.

Details on the talks are not available but it will be interesting to know if the data handover will be just one-way and what a Foursquared Apple Maps will look like. ®

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