Apple’s latest operating system upgrade brings with it a raft of new features, including improvements to the Siri voice activated assistant and deep Facebook integration. But for many, it’s becoming defined by what it has removed: Google Maps.
iOS 6 replaces it with Apple’s Maps. Using TomTom mapping data, it looks impressive (especially its 3D Flyover function), but in the UK at least it’s proving severely hamstrung by numerous mistakes. Whole towns are listed miles away from their actual location, streets and villages are missing, closed down stores and amenities are still present and place names suffer from plenty of spelling mistakes. Also, there’s no feature to match Google Maps’ terrific Street View option.
As a result, many users are hoping that Google will get the chance to put an iPhone app back onto the App Store. And according to 9to5 Mac, Google already have “an updated iOS6 version of the Google Maps app […] submitted to Apple.”
But will Apple ever approve it, now that they have their own rival service? The sometimes draconian App Store approval service is already a stickler for many app developers, and Google have already been made to suffer in the past (it took a year for Google Voice to be approved).
In Apple’s defence, they’ve uncharacteristically held their hands up and admitted their Maps service is a work in progress that will improve over time. Apple’s Trudy Miller told the Wall Street Journal:
“Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn-by-turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.”
But for many new iPhone 5 owners and iOS upgraders, it seems a few frustrating months of shoddy mapping lie ahead of them.
UPDATE – 25 September
Oh, the turning tides of the tech industry. It seems now that Google are denying that they’ve submitted a maps app to Apple.
According to Reuters, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has dismissed rumours of a Google Maps iOS 6 app waiting in the wings.
“We have not done anything yet,” revealed Schmidt to reporters in Tokyo.
“We’ve been talking with (Apple) for a long time. We talk to them every day.”
Perhaps it’s in Google’s interests NOT to submit the app for a while? If ever there’s been great PR for Google Maps in recent times, it’s now, and if for the time being it’s locked down to Android devices as a native app, that can only help the fortunes of Google’s own mobile platform.