When the original iPhone launched in 2007, the world was a different place. More specifically, the relationship between Google and Apple was a very different thing. Back then, Apple was taking a gamble on the smartphone market, and the two companies enjoyed a relationship that you could almost describe as cozy. Google, after all, was neck-deep in the iPhone. Not only was Google the default search engine in the iPhone’s Safari browser, Google Maps also formed the backbone for the iPhone’s Maps app.
Over the next couple of years, the relationship between Apple and Google soured (to put it mildly). Steve Jobs was furious in 2008 when Google debuted Android, which Jobs regarded as a ripoff of the iPhone’s operating system (the name “iOS” was still a few years away). As Android grew in popularity, Apple and Google became less and less friendly. And yet, Google remains just as integrated into the iPhone in 2012 as it was in 2007.
That, it seems, may be about to change. Citing “trusted sources,” 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple may finally be about to ditch Google Maps in favor of a completely in-house mapping solution that will include some pretty amazing 3D technology. While the basic design of the Maps app itself will remain unchanged, the backend – the actual, you know, maps – will no longer be Google Maps. The new maps app is expected to be “a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience.”
There have been hints that this was coming for awhile now. Over the last few years Apple has acquired three separate map companies – one per year from 2009-2011. Ever since the first acquisition – Placebase – in 2009, there has been speculation that Apple would drop Google Maps from iOS. The most recent purchase – C3 Technologies, bought in October – provided the first real clues as to what those maps might look like. It seems that C3 specializes in highly detailed 3D map data. With these three acquisitions, Apple gains the ability to create a pretty amazing 3D maps app entirely in-house, and it seems that that’s just what they’ve done.
Adding weight to the rumors, 9to5Mac points out that most of the executive who came to Apple in the C3 acquisition have now left, a common practice when the task their company was initially acquired for is finished.
Of course, this is still rumor at this point, but it seems pretty likely. There’s a good chance that Apple will take the wrapper off iOS 6 at WWDC 2012, so with luck we only have a month to wait to see Apple’s new Maps app for ourselves.