Russian Search Giant Yandex Acquires Low-Power Mobile Geolocation Startup KitLocate

Russia’s search giant Yandex, which is increasingly rolling into new areas as a way to continue expanding its business, has made a small acquisition — to the tune of “several million euros” — focused on mobile location services. It’s picking up Israel’s KitLocate, a maker of low-power mobile geolocation technology.

KitLocate, which was founded back in 2011, offers an SDK for iOS and Android developers to make their apps location aware. Location capabilities provided by the SDK include geo-fencing, motion detection and social location.

KitLocate’s flagship feature is reduced battery consumption — squeezed down to less than 1% per hour during use — thanks to its proprietary algorithms which allow location-based apps to request the device’s geographic coordinates less frequently without losing too much precision.

In one example, KitLocate’s tech has been used to power a municipal parking app, with its motion detection and geo-fencing algorithm used to detect when the app owner has driven away from a paid parking space and provide a notification that the space has been vacated. The tech also checks if the car driver has stopped at the parking meter and — if not — sends a push notification to remind them to pay.

Yandex said it will be using KitLocate’s technology to augment its mobile search app — and for additional apps/services that don’t require continuous GPS synching — to power location-based search results, products and offers. So, basically, location specific ads and more.

“We will use it in our mobile search app which is now available for both iOS and Android, to provide more location-connected results when a user search on mobile,” Yandex told TechCrunch.

It noted it will not be using the technology for car navigation and maps — where second-by-second geo-tracking is required. But added that KitLocate’s cloud solution looks “especially promising for location-based recommendation apps” in a blog announcing the acquisition.

The team of eight behind KitLocate will be joining Yandex’s mobile search team, and the startup’s office will become a new Yandex R&D office in Tel-Aviv where the Russian company said it plans to hire more engineers and mobile QAs.

Yandex confirmed to TechCrunch that KitLocate’s SDK will continue to be available for apps/services developers, post-acquisition.