Why the iPhone doesn’t have audible turn-by-turn directions

Thanks to my years in wireless sales, I can honestly say I’ve tried out more than my fair share of smartphones. The carrier I worked for made us try a new handset every 90 days to ensure that we were all well-versed in our craft.

But out of all of the devices I played with and carried, none were able to woo me away from the iPhone. In fact, the only non-iOS feature that I have ever really lusted after was Android’s ability to give audible turn-by-turn directions…

I’ve often wondered why Apple has continued to omit this seemingly crucial element from its Maps application. Surely it couldn’t be a matter of know-how, or money. So what’s the problem?

Today, BusinessInsider claims to have found the answer in a conversation with former astronaut and Google employee Dr. Ed Lu. During his tenure with the search giant, Lu gathered data for its Maps and Earth products.

“Lu said that Google couldn’t include turn-by-turn directions on Android phones until it had control of its own mapping database. The companies that provide databases wouldn’t let Google do it, because it was threat to their business.

Likewise, when Apple wanted to get access to the data to do its own thing with maps, Google was equally difficult.

Lu cautioned that he wasn’t directly involved in conversations between Apple and Google, and his information was “third hand,” but he said Apple’s relationship with Google deteriorated over what Apple wanted to do with Google maps. He wouldn’t provide more details on what Apple wanted to do.”

The theory makes sense, right? I mean if I’m Google, and I know that spoken turn-by-turn directions is a major feature in Android, I don’t want to just give it away to Apple to use on their competing platform.

But that’s where the new Maps application comes in. Word on the street is that Apple is finally putting all of those mapping software company acquisitions to good use, and plans to unveil an all-new, all-Apple Maps application at WWDC next week.

While this doesn’t mean that we’ll for sure see audible turn-by-turn directions right away, it does mean that Apple will finally have total control over the application. And once that’s the case, pretty much anything will be possible.

Is it just me, or is anyone else crossing their fingers that Apple announces audible turn-by-turn directions in the new iOS Maps app next week?