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.