Google Maps-less iOS 6 Could Mean a Native Google Maps App for iOS

    June 13, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

So Apple dumped Google Maps as the provider of geographical information for the Maps app on iOS 6, leaving Google to face a potentially sizable loss in its search traffic given there are 364 million iOS devices out there in the world.

That’s a lot of Apple mobile devices that are probably going to need a little help occasionally (or a lot) figuring out where they’re going and yet Google’s not even going to be able to make its geo services available as an option on iOS devices. Even among the web-based apps included on Google’s Search app for iOS, there isn’t a mobile-web option for Google Maps. Sure, you could always open up your mobile browser and type in maps.google.com but, honestly, who besides the truly Google faithful is going to take the time to do that when there is one easy button already on your phone that is called Maps that works perfectly fine.

One avenue that may be open for Google is to develop a native Google Maps iOS app similar to the one that’s been available on the Android platform. But traveling down this road has more than its share of obstacles and potential road blocks.

The possibility of even having a Google Maps for iOS app really depends on how benevolent Apple feels towards its industry competitor. Gmail users waited for years until Google finally released a native iOS app for its email client that runs alongside the in-house Apple email client, so it’s not completely unheard of that Apple would permit Google to offer an app that competes against one of Apple’s services on an Apple device.

Then again, Apple’s put some heavy labor into developing its own 3D mapping service so why would it go through all that effort to create the service if it didn’t want to encourage people to use Apple services on Apple devices. Additionally, this is more about what service is simply better at generating directions from Point A to Point B – there’s a whole realm of localized internet search at stake here.

If Google were to create a Google Maps for iOS app and Apple didn’t approve of it being included its App Store, that certainly would raise a question about the continued iOS availability of other geo service apps like MapQuest and Bing Maps. Granted, neither of those two apps are exactly trying to claim the 3D map market the way Google and Apple are, but it all really does come down to Apple’s caprice and how it wants to delegate access to its iOS users.

More over, if indeed Google Maps produced a native app for iOS but it wasn’t accepted by Apple, that might also signal other Google location apps like Google Places and Google Latitude might no longer be welcome in the App Store.

Sure, Google could always circumvent the App Store altogether and create a web-based mobile app like it has for Gmail, YouTube, Google Translate, and several others and then guide users to it through the general Google Search app. Or, once that hypothetical web-based mobile app was developed, iOS users would have the option of simply adding the page as a bookmarked icon on the phone’s home screen.

Still, while these options would keep Google Maps available to iOS users, the web-based experience of the service would likely pale in comparison to the features and dependability of Apple’s Maps, which would be running right off of the phone. It all really does come down to how Apple decides to handle it and should the company abide by the determination of its deceased co-founder to go “thermonuclear” against Google, then don’t hold your breath waiting for a Google Maps for iOS app.

We asked Google about any plans for developing a Google Maps app for iOS, but as of publishing this article we haven’t heard back.

  • Juan Carlos

    I think that it would be really cool, that Google could make an “Google Maps app for iOS”, with the all really great features that the actual app for Android does (I don’t have one, but I’m seen all the Google Maps videos), but it would depend totally on Apple… I hope they’re agree with the Google app… I would use it! :)

  • Petr

    No way Apple could get away with banning a Google maps app. As I see it, iOS is an operating system like any other, perhaps with more strict rules for apps, but it should not discriminate an app for competition reasons. If Microsoft could be sued for an unfair competition between web browsers, Apple should face the same destiny if things like that happen.
    Aside from that, I cannot imagine that Apple maps would any time soon contain nearly as much information as as those from Google. Google has a huge advantage: all the information (POIs) entered over the years by Google users, not mentioning customized maps, photos etc.
    Anyway, as long as there is a fair competition, we users can just lay back and look forward to having better maps than ever. :-)

  • http://jonashley.blogspot.com Jon

    “Sure, Google could always circumvent the App Store altogether and create a web-based mobile app like it has for” – Actually, google already has a browser-based map program… just try maps.google.com on an iPhone in Safari.

    • Talster

      If you try and use Google Maps via web browser on iPad, iPhone, there is no option as far as I can see to use Street View, I’m pretty sure Street View uses Flash.

      So unless Google brings its own native Maps app for iOS, the only way we would have Street View, would be through a browser such as iSwifter. I have iSwifter and I can confirm that you can access Street View through it albeit a little slow.

  • nikhil

    Apple’s maps do not have street view (and yes they do have flyover, but that is only in about 8 cities in the world)

    Google, please, please, please make a maps application for iOS, please.

  • TacoFace

    If apple does not allow it, that only further proves how afraid they are of inovation. Apple used to be known for its inovation, so if google makes a better google maps app then apple needs to make their maps better. P.S. almost ready to completely stop using apple products

    Apple either sues or hopes nobody sees new ideas and “inovation”

  • http://Www.marktedin.com Mark Tedin

    Besides one bus away, Maps is THE killer app for me. I can plan out bus routes hours in advance, and even have the app figure out how I need to connect to another service (light rail) for me. It would be a disaster to use a limited 3-Ed party app that can’t use any data besides it’s own. I will seriously delay a purchase of an iPhone 5 until this is worked out.

  • Michel Zadoroznyj

    If Google did develop an iOS6 app and Apple denies it an approval, can’t you just smell an antitrust lawsuit?