Report: Google Maps for Apple's iOS in final testing stages
Apple dumped preloaded Google services like Maps and YouTube with its recent iOS 6 update, rolling out a much-maligned mapping effort developed in-house. Citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter, the report states Google is distributing a test version of Maps for iOS to some individuals outside of the company--highlights include turn-by-turn navigation tools enabling motorists to use the service like a GPS device while driving. A source said the turn-by-turn feature did not exist in the earlier preinstalled Google Maps for iOS because of various disagreements between the firms over other facets of the Apple-controlled app.
Assuming the current trials prove successful, Google must next submit the Maps application to Apple's App Store, although it is still unclear when that will happen.
Google had not previously confirmed that a Maps app for iOS is in the pipeline, but a spokesperson said "We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser or operating system." An Apple spokesperson said the company does not comment on applications that have not been submitted for App Store approval, although the WSJ notes Apple has recently approved several new or updated Google apps.
Earlier this month, The Guardian reported Google is "not optimistic" that Apple will approve Maps for iOS because of competitive frictions between the two mobile superpowers--sources within Google said work on the project has continued only in "the unlikely event" Apple defies expectations. One Google insider believes that the pending exit of Scott Forstall, Apple's longtime senior vice president of iOS software and head of the Apple Maps platform, is cause for optimism, but another staffer says Google Maps' prospects for approval have not changed, citing industry politics as well as Apple's desire to save face and "keep moving forward in an effort to make its obviously inferior product better."
There is historical precedent to suggest Apple might block or at least delay Google Maps for iOS. The free Google Voice app spent more than a year in App Store submission purgatory before Apple finally approved the service in late 2010.
At the same time, however, consumer demand for Google Maps for iOS appears too strong for Apple to ignore. In a public apology for the failures of the Apple Maps platform, CEO Tim Cook even suggested that iOS device owners consider "[using] Google or Nokia (NYSE:NOK) maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their Web app" or else download native mapping apps such as Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing, Waze or MapQuest.
The Wall Street Journal report adds that Apple continues to work on its own Maps platform, with Eddy Cue, senior vice president for Internet software and services, taking the reins from Forstall. Cue is working closely with the Maps team and is an active participant in meetings dedicated to fixing the product, said a source familiar with the matter.
- read this Wall Street Journal article
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