Apple's WifiSLAM acquisition may lead to indoor mapping

Apple has acquired indoor location - WifiSLAM for roughly $20 million, reports The Wall Street Journal. The acquisition comes at a time when the folks in Cupertino are working to improve their own mapping solution available on iOS.

Apple has confirmed the deal, but didn't go into specifics regarding terms or what features may come.

WiFiSLAM was founded two years ago, offering a way for mobile apps to detect a phone's location in a building using Wi-Fi. The thought is that Apple could use WiFiSLAM's technology to package indoor mapping into its Maps app.

Industry watchers have noted the difficulty of indoor mapping with 3G because of signal strength. That's where WiFiSLAM's tech hopes to step in. Now shutdown after the acquisition, WiFiSLAM was available only for Android apps during its time on the market, thanks to some trickiness in iOS's software development kit.

In 2011, Apple-competitor Google launched indoor mapping for malls and airports, providing users with floor plans to navigate easily. Furthermore, Google's Street View feature has locations such as businesses, monuments, stadiums and even underwater - offering a step up on Apple.

Apple could certainly get into this space with its Maps solution, which was considered a rough patch for the company when it launched last summer. Could indoor mapping be part of its improvements?