More on Apple ditching Google for iOS maps

Rumors have been spreading for a while now that Apple would use iOS 6 to replace the Google mapping data in the Maps app with Apple's own solution. About a month ago iMore told you why -- to start removing Google's hooks in iOS and the information and revenue they generate from iOS users. Now the Wall Street Journal adds more fuel to that fire.

Apple has been hatching the plan to evict Google Maps from the iPhone for years, according to current and former Apple employees. The plan accelerated as smartphones powered by Google's Android software overtook the iPhone in shipments.

In the short term, Google will lose some ad revenue and miss out on data about what local businesses people are searching for—which it uses to pitch retailers on buying certain ads. Longer term, it is likely to hurt Google's ability to generate map-related revenue, according to former Google employees.

The WSJ pretty much recapitulates a lot of what we said back in May, but with a lot of background, including Apple's desire for StreetView, which took a while to get Google to agree to, and turn-by-turn, which Google never agreed to. Likewise, they cover Google's desire for more branding and Latitude integration, which Apple refused.

Most interesting is the information on Apple's Geo Team, which worked on features to compete with Google, and built Apple their own geocoder

Apple quietly launched its geocoder last fall inside its latest iPhone software. It has remained all but unnoticed outside a small circle of software pros.

Since Apple released its own geocoder, every time iPhone users open its map app, it is Apple's technology that translates their position, not Google's. Software developers can also use a version of the Apple technology, CLGeocoder, to build apps that let users, for instance, tell their friends what neighborhood they are in or search for nearby eateries.

Beyond geocoders and fancy rumored effects like 3D, Apple will have to offer mapping every bit as good as Google did, or they risk significant pushback. Likewise, Google may now choose to release their own Google Maps app in the App Store, complete with all the features they wouldn't give Apple, like turn-by-turn, and Apple wouldn't take, like Latitude, as well with their more recent technical innovations, like vector-based maps.

Apple is expected to reveal the new Maps app alongside iOS 6 at WWDC 2012 next week in San Francisco. Google has since announced their own maps event for this week.

May the best maps win.

Source: WSJ

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Shadowgun developer announces zombie shooter for iOS called Dead Trigger

Next up →

Gameloft bringing the official Amazing Spider-Man game to iPhone and iPad

Reader comments

More on Apple ditching Google for iOS maps


Should be interesting. Time to make more popcorn.
Agree that Apple's mapping engine will need to be better than Google's. It really needs to be better than OpenStreetMap, though OpenStreetMap is fine for non-critical locations such as in iPhoto.
If Apple wants to put the hurt on Google, they just might ban all mapping apps that don't use Apple's data engine and tiles. If they don't go that far, then Apple could let users choose between the Apple solution, Google's, and Microsoft's Bing Maps.

If apple didn't want Latitude and other maps features, and Google puts them in a maps app, why wouldn't Apple just reject it until they remove those features?

Without turn by turn it's pointless..
And I really hope this doesn't mean we're gonna lose street view??

+1... it would be nice to have turn-by-turn built in on iOS, rather than having to resort to $50-60 apps like Telenav, TomTom, etc...

Not that his/her comment was so original or anything, but I have to let you know your sarcastic wit in that response was just about on the same creative level. Well done........

I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally,
if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.
my site: apple 3g iphone

Something needs to be done. The present google maps experience on the iphone kind of sucks compared to the competition. It isn't that iOS lacks for 3rd party nav apps, but we need voice turn by turn, autorouting integrated into iOS. As it is, i barely use google maps.
That said, i'll always have a need for a preloaded maps nav app like navigon. Especially if Apple's version is limited or doesn't even include nav functions.
But even in the app shootout iMore did, navigation could be made easier UI wise, sharing locations, etc. I still hear from many nontechies who can't seem to use a GPS app. It'll be interesting to see Apple's take on it.

Basically if you're going to sell 64gbs, space isn't an issue. Let's see options to preload maps Apple given data coverage and tiered plans. My iphone serves this role (in a car mount) for 2-3 hours a day at least.

The first Nav App that allows for making fast, easy use of 3rd party/custom POI (point of information) files will become #1 in an instant. If Apple were to make turn by turn and custom POIs in iOS6 - that would be epic.

1) Apple has earned the chance to wait and see, but this is a huge risk dumping Google, who is the best solution out there (IMHO). Their data needs to be equal or better than Google, and their search needs to be in the same ballpark. (Earlier example was searching for Dave & Busters vs Dave And Busters vs Dave&Busters -- Google handles that perfectly, most competitors do not. Apple cannot afford regressions here.)
2) Should Google author one, Apple absolutely should allow a separate Google Maps app in the App Store. Keeping it out would serve no purpose other than to shield the internal Maps team from the competition they are going to need to get better, and get better in a hurry. I would like to see them really face the challenge head-on, and allow users to pick mapping apps, but I cannot see Apple doing that.
3) To supplant Google Maps as completely as Apple wants, Apple needs some facilities that extend beyond just iOS. One of the reasons Google Maps took off is that Google made it very, very easy to use Google Maps in one's own application, and to layer one's own services on top of it, regardless of your platform (desktop native, mobile native, web). Vanilla OpenStreetMap alone will not cut it on this front.

Why would Apple want to accomodate Google at this point? You need to play with the maps on Android and see the many functions Google is denying you access to just because they can. Google maps on iOS is absolutely nothing special it's a basic map with streetview. Apple would be totally right to make google eat the same crap they have been feeding iOS users for years.

Allowing a Google Maps app is not about accommodating Google, it is Apple throwing the gauntlet down and inoculating themselves against politics and laziness. Gruber put it one way, but Paul Graham's original put it best:

An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work. And it's not fun for a smart person to work in a place where the best ideas aren't the ones that win.

Microsoft lost 10 years of good recruits because talented engineers did not want to work for a place where politics often won out over technical solutions. Apple can absolutely exercise its power to block a Google Maps app. Short term, they might even think it smart. Longer term, that sort of protectionism will bite them.

To me it is similar to the Flash argument. Why would Apple, with their vast resources, want a default app to rely not only on a third party, but the competition? Adobe had its chance, couldn't deliver (so much so that eventually even they abandoned mobile Flash) so Apple said screw you, no Flash. At iPhone 1, they needed Google. Then Android hit, Google started dragging their feet and not delivering key functionality to iOS ( their prerogative) and Apple started working on their own solution.

Who developed the maps app? Who blocked new features? Genius. Google just provided data. That maps app was pure Apple. Google just provided the milk for the ice cream

Apple has constantly and consistently shielded their new apps from
Competitors for YEARS. hell to be honest there's NO non-webkit browser even NOW except "proxy browsers.". What makes you think apple won't block google or that google
Will even chance wasting money on
Development only to get rejected?

New Final Fantasy iPhone game is dated at E3. But if they don't at least add iCloud save so I can play on iPhone and iPad they won't get my $15.
Don't even dare if it doesn't display native and I gotta enlarge it.

This is indeed a disaster for anyone living outside the USA and frankly a huge step back for everyone inside the US unless Apple literally steals Google's Database. Google maps is full of billions of contributions from users, people who entered their shop's info in personally in order to assist people in finding their places of business. That is something Apple can NEVER duplicate, and shop owners aren't going to just run to enter their data in apple's doubtless CLOSED system.
Unless Apple literally does something magic here, this is the tipping point and the iPhone 4'll be the last Apple item I ever buy.
Oh, and don't expect Apple to let Google post their own Maps app especially in the first year. Duplicating functionality. And who even knows if Google WILL make an app? How long did it take them to get on the crappy Gmail wrapper that wasn't even going to be blocked?