Apple to preview in-house Maps at WWDC, ousting Google Maps later this year

The usually well-informed Wall Street Journal is throwing its weight behind rumors that Apple with iOS 6 will ditch a Google Maps backend and instead pursue own in-house mapping solution. Sources tell the paper that although Apple could, and probably will, show off the enhanced Maps app at WWDC next Monday, the feature won’t launch until later this year.

This should give developers a much-needed head start to incorporate Apple’s mapping technology into their apps and take advantage of the reportedly unique features. The story offers other interesting tidbits, including the new calendar-integrated mapping system…

Citing current and former Apple employees, authors Jessica E. Vascellaro and Amir Efrati wrote for the Journal:

Later this year, Apple is planning to oust Google Maps as the preloaded, default maps app from the iPhone and iPad and release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology, according to current and former Apple employees.

This part is also amusing:

On Halloween in 2006 — just months before the iPhone was announced — Apple’s product-marketing head, Phil Schiller, and other executives met with Google engineers to determine how the iPhone could use Google’s mapping data to let people see their locations and get directions.

At the meeting, one Google employee attended wearing a nun costume.

A nun costume? Seriously, Google?

All joking aside, the AllThingsD blog, which is part of the Wall Street Journal network, confirmed last month that iOS 6 will sport the new Maps app with 3D view.

Come next Monday, Apple will only tease the new Maps:

Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, one person familiar with the plans says.

This will give developers ample time to implement the unique features of Apple’s mapping solution:

Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services.

What kind of unique features?

Enter the brand new calendar-integrated mapping system:

Apple’s goal is to develop a “holistic” technology that integrates maps with other Apple software, says a person briefed on the strategy.

For instance, if Apple’s iCalendar program knows that a person has a meeting across town soon, and traffic is backing up, it might alert the person about road conditions.

Apple and Google, now frenemies, have certainly seen better times. Here we have former Google CEO Eric Schmidt sharing some candid words for Apple at the January 2007 iPhone introduction.


Apple’s mapping solution, according to mockups (here and here) will include three-dimensional terrain.

Google, too, is about to soupe up its mapping service, teasing “the next dimension in maps” for its presser tomorrow, an indication that Google Maps has gone 3D as well.

The Journal story says Apple’s mapping service has been in the works for years, as has been Apple’s plan “to evict Google Maps from the iPhone” following the Android momentum.

But more than ad revenue, Apple is going after the map market to have more control over a key asset in the widening smartphone war.

So Apple believes controlling the mapping experience and offering features that Google doesn’t have can help sell more devices and entice developers to build unique apps for iPhone users.

The story cites a former Google employee who opines that Apple’s move is bound to “hurt Google’s ability to generate map-related revenue”.

In order to create its own solution from scratch, Apple acquired mapping startups Placebase, Poly9 and C3 Technologies in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Cupertino last fall ditched Google’s geocoder in favor of its own software that translates a phone’s longitude and latitude into a point on a map.

The company also began using its own crowd-sourced database for location services with iOS 3.2 and recently confirmed use of OpenMapsStreet tiles in the iPhone application.

Looks like 2012 will be the year of 3D maps, no?