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September 25th, 2012
September 25th, 2012

A Google Maps App won't help iOS6

So why is nobody asking about a Google Maps Library

Sechelt BC looks like a targeting computer in Apple Maps
Sechelt BC looks like a targeting computer in Apple Maps
Should we be surprised that Google isn't planning to release an iOS native Maps app soon? Perhaps the real question should be: would it even matter if they did? The real problem with the horrifically bad maps in iOS6 really has nothing to do with the dedicated maps app.

As one of the fortunate few that have both iOS and Android devices for testing, I must say in the span of 3 years, I have only ever actually used a "maps app" one time - and that's across both ecosystems - and that was just to get a satellite view during a bike ride - for fun. If I need a map to find where I'm going - I go to my desktop and the web page before I leave my home (as any good navigator will tell you - "if you don't know where you're going... you better not leave the dock!") However, for the less then good navigators among us: That exact same data can be easily accessed from any device, anywhere that I can browse to a web site and probably through shared bookmarks (nobody seems to talk about Apple Maps' total lack of that option either - but that's another story). Realistically, any dedicated maps app... in short, could be considered a boondoggle.

So what really is the problem?

The massive problem with the new Apple maps is not the app. Even if Google had a native iOS6 maps app right now it would change very little: since almost everything that was available in the maps app before is already available on the Google Maps web site (and I bet they are rushing to beef that up right quick!) so there is little lost with the Google app. The real problem is all the other apps that are now horribly crippled by Apple's abysmal mapping data. I don't care that the maps app is junk on my iOS6 device but I very much do care that the map in my weather forecast app's radar image on my iPad is a monochrome blob.

To put it bluntly - the problem is the API & Data not the Maps App at all!

When it comes to dedicated maps apps - I like many others don't' need them... What I do use, many times every day, are countless other apps that incorporate mapping. Now all those apps - every single one of them in iOS6 just received a major downgrade. The only solution for iOS would be for Google to release, not an app, but a developer library. Something that will allow all the app developers to get real mapping back into their apps on iOS. The question that nobody seems to be asking is... will Google do that?

Where does this leave us?

Apple just dealt a serious blow to every single app on the iOS platform that uses their internal maps. Instantly rendering their Android counterparts far superior. Google might be banking on that to help push people over to the Android platform. It's a big gamble - but data is very hard to come by. Google has a multi-year head start in maps... despite Apple hiring many X-Googlers: that still won't bring Apple the data they are desperately lacking. I can't state this clearly enough - Apple's Tech, Code, and Concept are totally fine... Their data... compared to Google's is basically hand-me-down junk and Google is collecting new data every day - lots of it.

It's surprising most of the mainstream tech blogs are not addressing this. They seem focused on asking if Google will release a Maps app and/or speculating when, but really this is a relatively unimportant question - seriously, Who cares?

What they need to be looking at is: has Apple shot themselves in the proverbial foot? Only time will tell, as only time will tell if Google might be making a very smart decision to focus on their web based maps, not release a library, and ignore any further iOS apps in favor of their web site - thereby hoping to draw map based apps off iOS and into the Android ecosystem as their primary avenue for development.

Sure iPhone 5's are selling like hot cakes (in North America anyway)... most people are basically sheep, buying what is being positioned as the "next thing" - and when they find that the phone touted as something that "just works" actually "doesn't work" for mapping; Will they still want the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 when they arrive - will Apple pull their map data out of the quagmire in time? - that's the real question...

Regardless of what the future holds, as it stands, every single app on the iOS platform that uses mapping, is now, in a way, an advertizement for Google - the Android version is instantly and inherently better then the Apple one - thanks to Apple's own direction.

The Future

Will Apple Maps be able to get good enough, fast enough to actually be useful... and Should Google bank on the pains of Apple Maps being enough to draw people away from iPhone 5S and 6 to Android or should they release a developer library for iOS and try to gain developers back... That is a real question.

Then, try this twist... Perhaps Apple is actually counting on developers to build their own library for Google Maps, knowing full well that their product offering is drastically inferior but saving Apple the licensing costs and instead handing that down to the developers, in a giant bid to save money and release them from a Google dependency by providing an alternative merely to say that they did, when in fact they don't actually expect people to use it in the long term.

Those are the tough questions nobody seems to be asking... It's going to be an interesting ride to see who's play is going to win this little battle in the never-ending saga of Apple vs Google childishness.

Tags: app ios maps apple ...
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