Optical/IP Networks

Google Wants Maps Apps on All Devices

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) wants to deliver a mapping application for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s new iOS 6, a move that should be welcome news for early adapters ticked off at the new homegrown function in the latest iPhone operating system.

"We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world," a Google spokesman said in an email reply to Light Reading Mobile. "Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."

Google isn't saying when an app will happen but makes it clear that it would like one to be available to users. It is already possible to get to Google Maps through the iOS browser, but that doesn't offer the all the features or convenience of an app on the phone.

The iOS 6 map flap
Apple has pre-installed Google Maps as its mapping app on the iPhone since 2007 but dropped it in favor of an in-house build for iOS 6. Initial negativity about Apple's latest operating system, which was released Thursday, has centered around the new app, which uses GPS location feeds from TomTom International BV for the directions. (See Apple iOS 6 Shakes Up Mobile Communications.) Blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash declares that the search function is "degraded" in the iOS 6 beta compared to the older Google-powered version. Others have complained about the lack of public transport directions in iOS 6. (See Battle of the 3-D Mobile Maps.)

A potential holdup
There still could be a snag if even Google does rush out a map app for iOS 6 like its recent standalone YouTube app for the new operating system.

Analysts are speculating about what would happen if Google did introduce a mapping app that challenged the core mapping functionality built into iOS 6 and why Apple dropped its Google partnership in the first place.

"My expectation is that they would block Google's maps application from their apps store, which they tightly control," suggests Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group . "If they do allow it I think they would do their level best to cripple it."

Apple has faced controversy in the past over reportedly blocking Google Voice back in 2009. However, Apple does currently allow other GPS mapping apps, such as the MotionX-GPS program, in its app store

"I would find it doubtful that they would block a Google map application," says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies.

Bajarin suggests that the origin of the mapping spat between Apple and Google could be that the search giant kept back features like turn-by-turn directions from the iPhone, which are now included in the iOS 6 Apple-built version.

"My speculation is that Google didn’t give that to them, so that they had to go out and re-invest in infrastructure to give that to consumers," Bajarin says.

Apple hasn't yet replied to questions from LR Mobile about the situation.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:20:42 PM
re: Google Wants Maps Apps on All Devices

I did follow up with Google to ask when a maps app might arrive for iOS 6. No response from them yet. Will update the story if I hear anything more from either Apple or Google.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:20:41 PM
re: Google Wants Maps Apps on All Devices

GigaOM did a nice piece on workarounds for the mapping issue

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:20:41 PM
re: Google Wants Maps Apps on All Devices

VentureBeat points out this amazing tumblr page people have put up of iOS 6 map fails

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