September 26, 2012

Did Apple Catch Google Off Guard With Its Map App?

Apple’s move to build its own maps application caught Google off guard, sending the company scrambling to build a new iOS app from scratch. That move means it will likely be months, not days, until a Google Maps app lands on the iPhone.

That is the buzz trending online, with several sources providing different pieces of how Apple let it be known it was going it alone with maps.

According to The Verge, Google still had over one year left on its contract to provide mapping data for Apple when it caught wind of rumors about getting dumped. According The Wall Street Journal, both companies were feeling unsatisfied with the the partnership. Google wanted more prominent branding and the ability to include additional features, such as Latitude. Apple felt that Google Maps on iOS was falling behind Android, which had for many years been offering turn-by-turn directions.

At this year’s WWDC it was official: Apple would be replacing Google altogether and shipping its own maps product. It has been the only sore spot in otherwise glowing reviews for the iPhone 5. Many users have complained of inaccurate directions or missing venues when using the new Apple Maps application. Apple has vowed to use user data to make it stronger over time.

To the likely relief of many, yesterday evening The New York Times ran a piece confirming there would eventually be a Google Maps app for iOS, but that it would take time to build in 3D features found in Google Earth. Google has said very little about the matter publicly.

The bottom line? Expect a Google Maps app eventually, but not right away. If you are holding out upgrading to iOS 6 because of it, plan to wait for several months. Or if you are on an iPhone 5 or have already upgraded an older device, check out this option for putting Google Maps on your iPhone with Safari.

The competition between Apple and Google only looks to grow more intense; search is about the only area now where the two companies don’t compete. It means over time it will not only be maps where smartphone owners need to decide which ecosystem they want to buy into.

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