Whispers that Apple may be ending its dependency on Google Maps in all iOS devices continue to grow louder. The latest piece of evidence to join that chorus comes by way of a leaked image acquired by Macworld UK that purports to be a leaked image of a map from iOS 6.0. The image alleged to be taken from iOS 6 is from OpenStreetMap and features the watercolor overlay created for the open-source map service by Stamen.
Given the "leak" is pretty nondescript, I have to concur with Macworld, that speculation on the verity of this leak should be approached cautiously because this could have easily just been an image produced via iPhoto using Stamen's watercolor design.
Still, Apple going with OpenStreetMap wouldn't be a complete surprise at this point, would it?
Apple's already abandoned Google Maps for OpenStreetMap with the release of iPhoto for iOS; strangely, though, Google Maps is still being used for the platform's geotagging. At least for the purposes of iPhoto, OpenStreetMap noticed some problems with the map data being used by Apple, namely that the data is two years old and the lack of credit to OpenStreetMap's contributors (tsk, tsk, Apple). Plus, this year has seen an attrition of map-utilizing companies from Google Maps, perhaps most notably - at least before Apple's suspected defection - foursquare.
The integration of Google Maps into iOS devices must be a significant source of Google's mobile search traffic but also its commanding dominance in the overall search market. Without the automatic traffic collected from iOS users searching for places or directions via the Maps app's automatic sync with Google Maps would take quite a big chunk out of Google's market share. Google's enjoyed the fruits of its partnership with Apple since the iPhone has had a mapping application on it (since the beginning, really), so this could be a rough breakup for Google if this rumor pans out.[Via PC World.]