Has Google just won the iOS maps war?

By , Dec 14, 2012

While most people consider the return of Google Maps to Apple’s App Store an all-around positive, one observer sees the move as a ‘mixed blessing’ for club Cupertino. Not only is the familiar mapping application once again available, but the Android maker Google may now overshadow Apple’s own efforts to make a difference in the increasingly competitive mobile mapping arena. As we reported yesterday, the new Google Maps for iOS is the top free app for the iPhone.

Indeed, Google admits the iOS app – which adds turn-by-turn directions – is superior to the Android version from a design standpoint. But for Google, returning to iOS means it also reconnects with iPhone users and a wealth of data…

Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company told investors, via AppleInsider:

We see the Maps app on the iPhone as a win-win for Google because the company will now be able to generate location-based advertising and other revenues from iPhone users who use the app.

Although the re-entry of Google maps could benefit Apple by enticing some consumers who’ve shied away from the controversial launch of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, the presence of the Mountain View, California firm may also diminish users’ focus on improving Apple Maps.

“Apple will now receive less feedback on its own Maps app what with iPhone owners flocking to Google Maps”, the analyst notes.

 

What’s more, Google also released the official Maps SDK for iOS so other programmers could incorporate a Google Maps backend into their iPhone and iPad apps, should they wish to bypass Apple’s own Maps APIs.

Some people go even so far to suggest that the entire Apple Maps brouhaha was part of the grand plan because Tim Cook & Co. in the end got what they wanted.

Here’s what The Loop reader Keith Huss wrote:

The fact that Google is, on one hand, creating great applications for iOS and, on the other, fighting tooth and nail for market share against it makes me wonder if the company is divided into two factions, with a battle raging between them over its future direction. On one side, there’s the group who want to promote Android as a coherent product, and beat Apple into a pulp with it.

On the other side, there’s the “Pragmatists”. These are the ones who realise Google makes its money from advertising, not directly from selling products.

The quality and UI design seen in the Google Maps app is an indication of the search firm taking iOS more seriously than ever before.

For instance, Apple pundit John Gruber writes that the look is very clean: “matte-finished in contrast to Apple’s glossiness; flatter, but not entirely flat”. Clearly Google is allocating some serious resources toward putting its best services onto iOS users’ home screens.

Then there is Nokia.

The Finnish cell phone company introduced its own Here mapping application in November, in hopes of profiting from Apple’s mapping misstep.

However, the arrival of the native Google Maps app doesn’t bode well for Nokia’s Here service, which is largely built on HTML5 web technologies.

Obviously, mapping has become another competitive arena for tech companies. As consumers increasingly rely on their smartphones for more and more vital information, companies able to provide reliable data – such as maps – will gain followers.

For Apple, the renewal of some ties to Google benefits its overall hardware platform while presenting a setback of sorts. Apple Maps was the company’s main attempt to break the stranglehold Google had on the Internet software ecosystem powering a mobile world – and it failed.

Has Google apps become so intertwined with online activity that no mobile company can completely break free?

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  • http://twitter.com/djthotsa Thotsa

    I am using google maps its very slow . I think better iOS map

    • Ace

      Do you have a iPhone 5? I used it all day yesterday it is very smooth and I like it better than my bmw x6 gps & iOS maps.

      • No Whammy

        How can you spot a BMW driver? Don’t worry they’ll tell you.

      • Ace

        I was just trying to say briefly that it has a excellent GPS built in but I still prefer google maps.

      • http://twitter.com/manishrana50 Manish Rana

        No, you were trying to prove that you are rich and not a typical fandroid :P

      • droid4life

        So ur in this website to nice to meet you

    • a3yu

      Very fast on iPhone 4 too..iOS map is now in the unused apple apps folder XD

  • CollegiateLad

    I don’t think so. The only Google app that I use regularly is YouTube. I can see where street view might come in handy one day… But that’s few and far between.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    i have 4S JBed on 5.1.1 so i use the old google maps with the tomtom pug in for navigation and its still the best combo for mapping and nag…. my iphon5 is waiting on the IOS6 jailbreak

    • CollegiateLad

      That sounds awesome. I’ve noticed you’ve said this before.

  • J M

    I like using it when I remember. I think it is quite nice. However, since Siri doesn’t use it, I’m not going to take the hassle when I need an instant direction.

  • Ace

    There’s no war. But there’s google shitting on every map service out there.

    • Miketyler

      An excellant way to put it good job

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      just like iphone shitting on ever phone out there

    • Nvrhde

      Exactly,
      I use dem both
      Google – better search results.
      IOS – better layout .

  • http://twitter.com/ihxclos Carlitos 

    I think the real winner here is the user. Not only do we have another option, we have competition. Lets not forget Google didn’t want to give us turn-by-turn in the first place.

    • http://twitter.com/piyushr21 Piyush

      Hands of to you dude , well said , yeah real winners are users

  • http://twitter.com/myorangeisstuck wahaha

    I think it’s good but the icon is ugly that’s all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      yeah they wanted that big G on there

    • RarestName

      Nothing that iFile can’t fix.

  • Kurt

    google won hands down

  • http://twitter.com/alexx1291 Cazz

    it’s just that the public were a bunch of drama queens. i enjoyed ios maps, sure it didnt find things at times, but a simple rewording fixed it. The whining of the public just blew it out of proportion & got a man fired. all n all. i will still use iOS maps, i’ll keep them side by side.

    • disqus_QEe0bzGGE5

      So true and so agree with you

  • http://twitter.com/JerryVerbaan Jerry Verbaan

    Only ugly icon from google:P

  • http://www.facebook.com/raaed.rizza.7 Raaed Rizza

    Erm… Apple won. This is what apple wanted all along. They wanted maps app which is as good or better than the android one.

    • http://twitter.com/_moose239 Max Jarrett

      But surely they’d want their maps to be the top dog. Not their main OS competitor.

      • http://www.facebook.com/raaed.rizza.7 Raaed Rizza

        Well, android fanboys can complain all they like, but the Apple maps was actually pretty good,

  • MagicDrumSticks

    Wow… Google maps is at the top of the app store and it barely came out 2 days ago.

    If this was an apple made application a the top chartchart the play store, apple fan boys would be reveling with joy.

    Silly Fan boys will NEVER appreciate the success of another company

    Foolish ignorant bastards

    • http://twitter.com/manishrana50 Manish Rana

      Need a psychiatrist?

      • MagicDrumSticks

        Na bhai. Kem chho?

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

    I just want to know why I have to click so many times just to start navigation. Sure it looks cool, but five clicks is an awful lot. They should at least add in voice search similar to Siri. When I search with Siri it just starts turn by turn automatically. Maybe when google implements this it will win me over.

  • http://twitter.com/warrenskipper Warren Skipper

    I don’t think Google could truly win the maps war on iOS because of its limited system-wide access. What this does is give Apple the opportunity to quietly bring iOS Maps up to par with Google Maps. In which case, Apple will always have the chance to win back customers (at least non-jailbreakers) because of iOS Map’s system-wide integration and convenience,.

  • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

    I’m going to stick to Apple maps for the most part – I prefer using Siri and I actually prefer the maps.

    That said, did you know you can get directions with the new Google Search app? (The one that provides voice search /w the siri-like intelligent assistant feedback.) Say, for example, “directions to best buy” and it’ll report back how far away it is and routes. Click one, and it’ll launch the web app. That app will provide a “launch app” button that’ll bring up the routes in the new app.

    A bit cumbersome, and hopefully Google can use their own APIs to streamline it a bit, but it does work. Though, the first time I tried I just got a full-page “Go download maps!” message instead, even though I already had it.

  • Bluedark

    Apple thinks they are gonna own everything when it comes to technology!

  • Dexter

    there are goods and wrongs on each app. The iOS maps app may not be the most accurate but it sure has a beautiful looking map. Google did not want to offer turn by turn and apple did what they had to do. And now Google is offering turn by turn -isn’t that just plain silly?. I have used them both and yes, here in The Netherlands Google maps has more to offer in terms of search than iOS maps does, but it does not always offer you the better routes. I do love the more natural sounding voice of Google over Siri, but i fell in love with the clean and fresh looks of iOS maps… it is in my opinion the best looking maps i have ever seen. Now that people have both, they will be able to compare and contrast and it will all come to personal preference. Even though there are things i like about Google Maps and there are things i like about iOS maps app, i will definitely go for iOS maps app and use Google maps when i cannot find something on iOS maps app :)…

  • ridonkulous

    I would use Apple maps more if it had street view, but sadly it does not. “Maybe next time” isn’t that what we keep hearing. :)

  • Emre SUMENGEN

    One problem: It’s not available everywhere! Dumb decisions by Google!

    Just like Google Earth, Google Maps app is not available in many countries… Even in those countries where Maps has the addresses and even directions. DUMB DUMB DUMB! (Oh, sorry, Google, Google, Google!)

  • Gorflin

    Apple maps are better looking on turn by turn and the voice is better, but Google maps have a much more better search option with their more widespread Internet prescience .

  • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

    I still use apple maps for day to day. I’ll use google maps like i use bing or waze – as a back up if necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mateo-Mejia-del-Castillo/538808577 Mateo Mejia del Castillo

    A long long time ago Jeff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cubanno2031 Adrian Rodriguez

    For me google maps won,apple learning from google,google is a serius maps app,the best out there!!!

    (My experience)