Will Google release Google Maps into the App Store, and will Apple approve it if they do?

<img src="/sites/imore.com/files/styles/620w620h/public/images/stories/2012/06/google_maps.jpg" alt="Will Google release Google Maps into the App Store, and will Apple approve it if they do?" title=Will Google release Google Maps into the App Store, and will Apple approve it if they do?" width="620" height="414" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-115019" />

iOS 6 was another step towards removing Google from the core functionality of Apple's mobile operating system. While they once were friends, remain partners in certain areas like the YouTube app and search in Safari, they're now fierce competitors in smartphones and tablets and Apple reportedly doesn't want Google collecting data from iOS users.

Apple's new Maps app swaps out the Google maps data for TomTom maps data, and Google maps tiles for Apple's own custom made tiles. It loses Street View but adds turn-by-turn navigation, something Google wouldn't give Apple previously.

So that raises the question: Now that Google is gone from Apple's Maps app, will Google release their own, full-on, Android-style Google Maps app in the App Store?

Will Google make Google Maps for the iOS App Store?

iOS user data is far too valuable for Google to simply let go. The only reason Apple could successfully build features into iOS like Wi-Fi location mapping, traffic, etc. was because of iOS users providing that data through use of location-based services.

Google is an advertising company. They make almost all their money through AdWords and associated technologies. But to deliver those ads to the right user, at the right time, at the right place, they need data. Better data means better ads for users and higher click-through rates for advertisers.

Even though Google chose to make Apple their mobile competitor, they also choose to make a lot of apps for the App Store. That's because iOS users use a ton of apps. And Google wants that data. They need that data.

Analytics are everything in Google's world. From market baske

So, yes, I'm guessing Google will make and submit a real Google Maps app to the App Store.

And that brings us to the second half of the equation: If Google submits Google Maps to the App Store, will Apple approve it?

Will Apple approve Google Maps for the iOS App Store

There's a giant "duplicates functionality" red card that Apple's played in the past, using claims of user confusion or lack of unique functionality to keep competitive apps out of the store. While the review process still isn't perfect, and Apple's policies still aren't transparent, those days seem to mostly be behind us.

But Apple's faced considerable scrutiny for that, especially when it concerned Google. The whole Google Voice incident shows that it's an incredibly high profile, government attracting, business distracting ordeal.

Apple makes money selling high margin hardware. Software and services primarily drive those hardware sales. Having more and better services, as long as they don't impact hardware sales in the future (by enticing users to switch platforms) are ultimately in Apple's best interest. By having the services users want on iOS, Apple sells more iPhones and iPads.

Even though Apple provides iCloud, they still have excellent support for Gmail. There's even an Gmail app in the App Store. Even though Apple provides Find my Friends, and reportedly refused to put Latitude into the old Maps app, they've let a Google Latitude app into the App Store. Even though Apple has iAd, after a brief period of concern, developers can still choose to use AdMob.

So yes, I'm guessing that if Google submits Google Maps to the App Store, Apple will approve it.

That's not to say there won't be leaks, blusters, rejections, accusations, app crashes, and a lot of other drama along the way -- but in a few months, I think iOS users will once again enjoy the best of both worlds. This time, mapped.

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+.

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Reader comments

Will Google release Google Maps into the App Store, and will Apple approve it if they do?


Hope so, Rene, because in its present form, Apple Maps is an unacceptable substitute for the robust, deeper, and more mature/reliable Google Maps.

I think they'll improve and expand their web app. That's the only way I see this going. It's clear from the past that Google does not wish to devote time to dedicated iOS app, with a couple exceptions like Google Earth and Translate. The Gmail app is a wrapper for their web app and the Google Voice app hasn't been touched since 2009. If they do release anything into the App Store, it will be a wrapper for the web app. Google has absolutely no motivation to make a dedicated iOS app. Why not flaunt that Android is the only platform with Google Maps built in?
Now, Google Maps still does have an API but I'm not sure to what extent that could extend to a dedicated third-party app. Palm did it pretty successfully on WebOS but they abandoned it for Bing Maps. I guess we'll have to see how fast Apple can update it's Maps.app to include missing features from GMaps versus how much those features really matter.
Personally I can already tell you that in GMaps on Android I used to enjoy the ability to pull reviews from multiple sources. Being able to only pull reviews from Yelp makes me nervous since they aren't the most ethically sound company ever. I think this also leaves some space open for third-party devs to harness both the Apple Maps API and Google Maps API to fill the void.

No, they previewed GOOGLE EARTH for iOS. Why is it that people keep trying to logically exchange that in their heads?

Yeah - I'll never trust Yelp reviews after hearing the stories of my friends with small businesses (a lawyer, a jeweler, a salon, a coffee roaster). Yelp pushes the companies that advertise by promoting good reviews and punishes non-ad-buyers by hiding positive reviews and promotin negative ones, as well as putting their ad buyers at the top of the lists. I have seen reviews I wrote disappear.
If Google is single-sourcing reviews I won't need them either. iOS maps and Waze and MotionX will do me fine.

i had an opposite experience. I needed a dental implant. You know when you lose a tooth and they drill a titaniaum screw into your jawbone to mount a fake tooth? Well i figured i'd better look up the doctor reviews. Well on yelp had a bunch of reviews saying this guy and their clinic was cheap because they cut so many corners had untrained people doing anestesia. And had injured tons of people. Well that scared me and led me to do a bunch more research. Come to find out the reviews were correct. And there had even been a lawsuit filed because they killed a guy improperly sedating the guy. I got a copy of the complaint, even spoke to the attorney filing the claim. Now i don't know if the dude is guilty but either way a man died in their operating chair getting a routine dental procedure. That said i found some websites, i think including yelp, that had fake reviews i suspect submitted by the company. But yelp was one of the few sites with real people submitting the reviews.

Have you looked at the new google+ iPhone app? It's better than the android version. The google search app was just updated with new functionality. None of this means they won't go the web app route with maps, but to say "it's clear that google doesn't want to devote time to dedicated iOS apps" it's really fair or true.

1) They will do it, I agree.
2) Apple will have to approve it because there are other maps apps in the store. Emotions aside, they can't treat one vendor differently than others. If they do, it will be the most egregious misuse of power they have exhibited to this point.

But you feel it's ok for Google to give the iOS map app 1/3 of what it puts into the Android version? Come on guy get real.

I don't think Apple should have blocked Google from implementing features and Google shouldnt have retaliated by leaving out features.
Two way street...read up. :-)

I hope the google maps app will continue to be available, I doubt Apples maps will be any good in Romania. Google has been charting Romania for years, all the streets, restaurants, shops and anything you need to find are already there.
It would be a huge loss for me if Google maps stops being available.

Agreed, the same is true about Brazil. No other company has maps that resemble Google's, not even Nokia, and their maps are quite good.

With all the other map apps available, I don't see how Apple could say no. As a separate map app wouldn't integrate with an iOS device like the new built in one.
The new one looks to be better overall than Google Maps, aside from street-view. The new flyover function looks fun, but no really a street-view replacement :-(

I really don't care. I will be happy with what I saw in WWDC. it seems to do more then the current google maps does on the iPhone. Plus, I have been trying to move away from using anything google. I even use bing.

Apple's new map app lacks street view, offline maps, pedestrian and bike routes, multi-source reviews, public transportation, and, perhaps most importantly, robust global coverage.
So you better hope that they approve the new maps app Google demonstrated last week, or you're screwed...

Two crucial facts to remember at all times:
"iOS user data is far too valuable for Google to simply let go."
"Google is an advertising company."
With those two facts in mind, it's clear that iOS 6 has put the hurt on Google. Big time. iOS currently makes much more money for Google than Android does. Not hard, since Android still loses money for Google overall. (Those inconvenient little facts came out in a recent trial.)
And at least four of the major iOS 6 features announced yesterday will cut into Google's iOS revenue. Maps, obviously. Facebook integration will end any chance of Google+ succeeding on iOS. Passbook is just the first step toward full e-wallet functionality on iOS, and Google knows that. (Have you ever seen anybody actually buy anything with Google Wallet? Yeah, didn't think so.) In the US, mobile contactless payment is still in its infancy. Not enough demand to be taken seriously yet.
But the real killer is deeper and broader Siri integration. It's already cutting right into the heart of Google's profit center: spammed up search results. Because Siri doesn't necessarily use Google search. And if it does, it won't show you adspam at the top of the 231,297 links Google would have spewed at you. It just gives you the best answer.
So Apple approving Google Maps on the App Store or not isn't the critical issue facing Google on iOS. It's Siri and its ever-expanding areas of expertise. No need for Google search. And that's a stake in Google's mobile heart.

More insightful commentary from the poster who insisted that Oracle's case was rock solid and that would be the stake in Google's heart.

I have an iPhone 4 so all that new mapping goodness won't be available(fly over, turn-by-turn) so I can get it if Google adds what they announced last week. I'm Apple all the way but since my device didn't quite make the cut I'm hoping for Google Maps.

Apple's "Find My iPhone" service on icloud.com uses Google Maps to show the location of your device. Has anyone heard whether they are replacing Google Maps there?

I think so they let other competitors in. But I am not sure Google will make an app but I hope they do but for know Google has a WebApp that Apple made even better with iOS 6 .
I would really like to Google or a big company make Jailbreak apps to undermin Apple so that they open up a bit more.

Why is everyone complaining about features that none of you used anyway? Get real. Go get an Android phone their maps are better than the leftovers they gave us on iOS and no one is complaining about that.

honestly i never used google maps except i was always impress at how fast it was to find my location. But i'd use nav much more often.

The good thing about all of this isit won't matter for several months. Since iOS 6 will be Developer (and blogger) Beta until the new iphone launches Google and Apple have time to ger things ready. Google has probably known this was coming for a while so they've had time to build and submit iOS apps if they want to go that route. I imagine Apple will let a Google maps appin the store because it enhances their ecosystem and provides features like street view, walking directions and mass transit directions.

what happens to the apps that use google maps inside of them. like some run tracking apps, apps that need to locate or show places like some of those movie theater apps, and i came a cross a few others? Like i think i have the Euro 2012 app and it has a google map inside showing "host city guides"

No worries, if my experience is any indication, I would imagine most apps will work fine, showing Apple maps instead. On two apps that I have tried on IOS6 so far that used Google maps, they have been replaced with Apple's own maps. One of them, AppRadio by Pioneer displayed some weird redrawing issues at times, but I'm not too concerned since it's only a first beta.

is that somehow done automatically without the app having to update? Like does the official Euro 2012 app now under "host cities' guides" have an apple map inside the app? give it a try.

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I sincerely hope you're right Rene. Some of us live and die by the reliability of the maps app, and I'm one of them. Apple's version, unless it is a side-by-side copy of all Google's data, will be inadequate for me.
That and it infuriates me when a company robs their users of functionality to introduce stupid gimmicks with no practical use. (flyover... honestly, it's only practical for pilots)

I'm fairly certain Google will submit a Map app and Apple will approve it, but it really won't make a difference. There is no way to change app defaults in iOS so with the new Apple Maps app being the default it will launch when the user asks for directions, looks up a location, etc. If the user wants to run Google Maps, s/he will have to manually launch it which is an extra step. So Apple will always have a leg up on Google.

I could care less who has a leg up. I don't give a %$#@ about Apple's battle with Google. I don't work for either of them and I don't hold stock in them. I just want a WORKING MAP

Google Maps on android now does bicycle directions in NYC to go along with it's excellent transit routing. This feature made the thought of switching from Android to iOS go from 'pricey but perhaps worthwhile' to 'impossible/unfeasible' for me in the near future. I will check back in 2 years when my contract is up.

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I was wondering the same about a Google Maps app for iOS only yesterday.

It got me thinking about how I would be able to access Street View, which is something I use quite often and will miss with iOS 6.

I tried accessing Google Maps via web browser (Safari on my iPad) and tried to access Street View but as far as I could see I couldn't find it, but I'm pretty certain Street View uses Flash.

I have iSwifter, now I tried the same thing in there, and I could access Street View on that albeit a bit slow.

Some unless Google releases its own Map app for iOS and as long as Apple approve it, the only other way with iOS 6 to access Street View would be to use a browser like iSwifter.

I really hope Google do release their own Map app for iOS.