Apple could have kept Google Maps until iOS 7

Apple could have kept the stock iOS Google Maps for another year, if it wanted, a new report alleges. When Apple publicly announced in June it would drop the native Google Maps app in favor of its own solution, Google was shocked as its contract with Apple to keep the maps app on the iPhone “had more time remaining”, the New York Times reports.

Luckily, if the paper’s sources are to be believed, Google is working on a standalone Google Maps app though it won’t be released immediately because Google wants to do it right and incorporate 3D view as it wants the program to be comparable to Apple Maps, namely its three-dimensional Flyover views of major cities…

Chris Ziegler first reported of this on The Verge:

Apple’s decision to ship its own mapping system in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 was made over a year before the company’s agreement to use Google Maps expired, according to two independent sources familiar with the matter.

A standalone Google Maps for the iPhone “is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months”, echoing previous reports.

Nick Bilton of The New York Times was able to corroborate the finding:

Google is developing a maps application for iPhone and iPad that it is seeking to finish by the end of the year, according to people involved with the effort who declined to be named because of the nature of their work.

Google apparently did not know that Apple had changed its mind until WWDC.

As to why the program won’t be released for a couple more months, the paper explains.

Google would likely prefer to release a maps app that includes 3-D imagery so it is comparable to Apple’s. But Google has 3-D images in Google Earth, which is a separate app with a separate code base from Google Maps, so it would take some time to combine the two.

The Verge sheds more light:

For its part, Apple apparently felt that the older Google Maps-powered Maps in iOS were falling behind Android — particularly since they didn’t have access to turn-by-turn navigation, which Google has shipped on Android phones for several years.

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that Google also wanted more prominent branding and the ability to add features like Latitude, and executives at the search giant were unhappy with Apple’s renewal terms.

But the existing deal between the two companies was still valid and didn’t have any additional requirements, according to our sources — Apple decided to simply end it and ship the new maps with turn-by-turn.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt suggested that the ball is now in Apple’s court.

“We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?” Schmidt told a small group of reporters in Tokyo. “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Following a very public ridicule (Mapgate, anyone?), Apple’s reportedly been poaching Google Maps engineers to improve the quality and accuracy of its map data.

It’s not just that Apple’s limited manpower is derailing its own mapping efforts  Google’s been perfecting their mapping service for more than seven years so Apple has some serious pluming work to do if it’s to rival Google Maps any time soon.

Needles to say, jailbreakers can easily put the Google Maps app back in iOS 6.

Are you looking forward to a standalone Google Maps app?