Coincidentally or not, The New York Times reports that Google will update its Maps for Android app today with new features, just as Apple is prepping to release iOS 6 for public consumption. iOS 6, as you know, drops a Google Maps-backend in favor of Apple’s own mapping solution. But Apple Maps are lacking in several areas.
For example, with Apple Maps users don’t get as high quality satellite imagery as with Google. Street-level photography is non-existent and transit directions are provided via dedicated App Store apps. And although Apple partners with local providers for accurate data, it currently cannot match Google, which has manpower and assets to collect its own data (and has been doing so for years).
But while Google released a standalone YouTube app for iOS following Apple’s removal of the stock app, the search Goliath stopped short of saying whether a standalone Maps app is in the works for iOS devices. With this in mind, we’ve put together a little poll so place your bets now…
From The New York Times story:
But what about iPhone users? For now, they can access Google Maps on their mobile Web browser. Mr. McClendon declined to say whether Google was building a Google Maps app for the Apple App Store, as it did for YouTube, which Apple also kicked off in the latest version of the iPhone.
As for the Android version, Google Maps can now sync locations, search queries and other data across devices. Provided you’re logged in, this makes it easy to pick up on your Android device right where you left off on desktop.
Google Maps VP Brian McClendon noted “it takes a long time and effort to figure out how to do this right”, adding that “experience is important”.
He’s right about that.
Image courtesy of Reddit
Quantifying the impending iOS 6 Maps backlash,Michael Degusta explains that 63 countries with a combined population of 4.5 billion people will be without features they previously had in iOS, including:
• Transit: removed from 51 countries with 4.4 billion people
• Traffic: removed from 24 countries with 2.3 billion people
• Street View: removed from 41 countries with 2.5 billion people
For more on this, check out a nice post over at Business Insider.
Even Apple pundit John Gruber is in doubt:
The maps experience in iOS 6 is a downgrade. Users shouldn’t (and won’t) give a rip about behind the scenes negotiations. Seems pretty clear the new Maps is going to be the biggest problem with iOS 6.
What if Google doesn’t Google Maps on iOS, to paint the platform as the one with crappy maps?
Anil Dash has a nice overview of who benefits of the crappy iOS 6 Maps and Waze CEO Noam Bardin warns that Apple is “coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and they’re competing against Google, which has the highest data”.
Now, all apps using the MapKit framework get the new Apple Maps by default. The problem is, embedded MapKit views cannot use a Google Maps-backend.
Of course, Google’s Maps experience is readily available on Apple’s mobile devices through any browser at maps.google.com.
But as Facebook has learned the hard way, HTML5 is not mature enough to match the responsiveness and smoothness of native iOS apps. Speaking of maps, check out cool infographic of the summer’s most popular activities that the Google Maps team created by analyzing searches patterns.
Here’s how transit directions work in Google Maps for Android.
Taking it all in, do you think Google should provide a standalone Maps app for iOS devices?
At any rate, the official Google Maps app for iOS could be in the works.
Google’s SVP of Commerce & Local Jeff Huber wrote back in June that his company was looking forward “to providing amazing Google Maps experiences on iOS”.
I think it’s in Google’s interest to release iOS counterparts for all their core apps that ship with Android.
Such a move would create a Google ecosystem within the Apple ecosystem and with the ability to open Gmail links in Chrome it is obvious to me that the company is in it for the long haul.
Per usual, we welcome your additional observations and thoughts down in the comments.