Maybe Apple got what it wanted with Google Maps

By , Dec 13, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few months about the reasons behind Apple’s decision to kick Google Maps out of iOS 6. Everyone has their opinions, but it seems like the biggest factor was Google’s unwillingness to bring voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, among other features, to the pre-installed app.

Fast-forward to last night, when Google Maps returned to the iPhone in the form of a standalone App Store app. It has the same beloved features like Street View and transit directions, but it now has voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, and fast-loading vector graphics. Maybe Apple got what it wanted….

The Loop shares an email from a reader by the name of Keith Huss which I found rather interesting:

“Situation: Apple cannot get Google to update its maps app on iOS. It was ok, but Google refused to update it to include turn-by-turn directions or voice guidance even though Android had these features forever. Apple says, “Enough” and boots Gmaps from iOS and replaces it with an admittedly half-baked replacement. The world groans. Apple has egg on its face. Google steps up it’s game and rolls out a new, free new maps app in iOS today that is totally amazing, I’m sure to stick it in Apple’s face… Ooops

Bottom line: Apple took one for the team (ate some shit) and fooled Google into doing exactly what Apple has been asking for years. Users win.”

MacRumors also points out that not only is Google Maps the top free app in the App Store, but Apple has listed it first in its ‘Featured Maps’ section. And now all of the mapping flaws in iOS 6 seem to have somewhat faded into the background, as folks who were waiting to install the update are now doing so.

Could it really be possible that Apple had planned this all along? I doubt it. Just think of everything it’s been through with iOS 6 Maps — tons of public criticism, two executive firings and other terrible PR. I doubt that this was all some brilliant scheme to get Google to add voice-guided navigation to its app.

But has it worked out better for the users? You bet. iOS now has arguably the best selection of mapping software in the mobile industry. There’s Apple Maps, which I have yet to have a problem with, Google Maps, which Google says is even better than its Android counterpart, Garmin, and countless others.

What do you think?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/liamsagooch Liam Googolplex Merlyn

    While it does sound like an interesting idea, it seems like awfully expensive plan just to get Google to play ball. Didn’t Apple invest millions in this mapping system?

    • No Whammy

      They’ve been paying Google millions for maps anyway. This theory is pretty good. With competition so tense, it made sense for Apple to branch away from being controlled by Google in the long run, if not immediately. Regardless of the details, Apple made the correct choice.

      Now for this theory to be substantiated, Apple would need to develop default app settings and allow Google to handle map links by default. If they really wanted Google Maps to step up, they implement such functionality. I really doubt this will ever happen.

  • NickDee

    Sill think NAVAGON is superior, not free though

    • http://www.facebook.com/luisreyespr Luis

      Blasphemy! It is NAVIGON!

  • http://twitter.com/shane_e46 Shane Sepeda

    To me, apple maps seems a lot more snappier than the google app. BUT, the google app provides a ton of features.

    My only problem is that the google app isn’t stock anymore.

    • http://www.facebook.com/luisreyespr Luis

      So where is exactly the problem? All I see are the probability of getting faster updates.

      • Falk M.

        OS integration, bro.

        Oh and people *LOVE* app switching /s

      • No Whammy

        Sad but true. We have Apple to thank for the closed ecosystem.

      • http://twitter.com/shane_e46 Shane Sepeda

        I tried using Siri while in Google maps navigation and everything got glitchy and screwed up. App switching sucks.

      • Aj

        If you try to navigating from Siri or Safari to Maps, there is no option to use Google Maps instad of Apple Maps. Tgat is where you face problems. Stock app is integrated with the OS but since Google Maps are not stock maps app, tge OS lacks integration with gmaps

      • http://twitter.com/shane_e46 Shane Sepeda

        True. I am positive that Google will just continue to improve their app. It is the fact that it is not the default maps app anymore.

  • Guest

    I still think that maps has a long way to go, now if they can somehow implement similar features to is competitor ‘Waze’ then I am sold completely and will uninstall all other navigation applications including Waze!

    • http://www.facebook.com/RKT7897 Richard Thompson

      Totally agree. Waze is freaking awesome!

    • No Whammy

      Waze is a cheap toy with a cumbersome UI, although I do like the openness of it; crowd-sourcing is definitely the future.

  • Johnathan Smith

    Um this article reeks of bias. Google wasn’t unwilling, Apple just didn’t give Google the permission to update their apps. It was in apples ball court, it was their problem.

    • http://twitter.com/Agil1ty Olaf Y. Wouters

      True, I also thought Apple didn’t want to renew their license on google maps.. just like they did with youtube, and to be honest, both apps are a 100% more useful now

    • Melvco

      There have actually been several reports on the subject, and the general consensus is that Google didn’t want to add features like voice-guided navigation to the stock iOS app because they spent so much money developing them. It wasn’t required to provide them to Apple through their license agreement, so what incentive did it have to bring iOS maps up to speed with Android?

      As for your theory, 2 things: 1. Google only provided backend mapping data for the pre-iOS 6 Maps app, and subsequent features like Street View. It was Apple’s app. So I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Apple just didn’t give Google the permission to update their apps.’ 2. Suppose that was the case — that Apple was somehow blocking Google from adding the voice-guided turn-by-turn feature to the old Maps app — how would that have benefited them, as a company in a high-stakes smartphone race? I just don’t see it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottrstokes Scott Stokes

    Wow. Love it, Apple’s maps is in a folder never to be used again. Google’s app is gorgeous, far superior and actually has all the streets! Finally, no more crappy directions in every city I visit. On purpose or not, I don’t care, my iphone finally has a working maps app again.

  • http://twitter.com/unbeliever008 Jae. Just J.

    I really don’t see Mr. Cook as Machiavelli.

  • http://twitter.com/daybv80 Daiddel Borges 

    The only thing Google’s new maps has better than apple’s is more accurate maps and street view.. But voice and Turn-by-turn is better with apple, google doesn’t access your contacts addresses and I honestly believe that apple’s UI looks better.
    If we could have apple’s UI, voice tunr-by-turn and integration with the accuracy of google’s we’d had the perfect maps app.

    • OhMyGod

      “The only thing Google’s new maps has better than apple’s is more accurate maps”

      Well, pretty important for a maps app, no?

    • No Whammy

      You forgot walking directions, and public transportation directions. Also, Google does access your contacts’ addresses if you have an account with Google, you sync your contacts and you’re signed in in Google Maps (all of which I already have setup.)

  • mehrab

    Word

  • http://twitter.com/RedCore7 Marcos Rivas

    Yeah! I was thinking the same !
    It loads pretty quick but unfortunately we ipad users still don’t get what we want

  • samuelkraft

    Wow. I really don’t get the hype about google maps.. The UX i very weird.. The pull-out menu at bottom right? And what about the blurry text and blurry maps at some zoom levels? Come on..

    • wi77iam

      It’s much more a thing of “better” features rather than better UX.
      If you live in an US rural area or out of town suburb and are going everywhere with your car – than apple maps might just be fine.

      But here in Europe – especially in the bigger capital cities – public transportation is used A LOT side by side. And if you have to “navigate” your way to a place you don’t visit too often – it’s a really nice feature to know where the next metro/bus station is.
      This feature in this early stage of apple maps is TOTALLY lacking (at least here in germany) and a very vital part of my daily maps routine – and street view is also nice to have for a quick check of the surroundings. (3D flyover might be nice to look at – but has no practical value in everyday navigation – ‘cuz I has no wings.)

      Navigating your way through a +million capital city is a total different beast than driving from suburb to suburb (or through australian desert for that matter ;-) ).

      And even though apple is a US company – they sell their products WORLDWIDE. So their key selling features of the phone should also work internationally – not only US based.

      And therefore – Google Maps will be used and sought after for quite a while – until apple maps can catch up. (But I still doubt that such a feature like street view will likely come in the next 1-2 years – if ever.)

  • http://twitter.com/HuchongLing Joey_Z

    I don’t know if Apple planed this, but I’m very happy now. Street view is a lot faster than the stock map app before ios6.

  • Emre SUMENGEN

    Well said… Pretty interesting point of view, by the way… But, also as good.