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Google Reportedly Readying iOS 6 Maps AppBy Barry Levine
Posted: September 21, 2012 11:32am PDT
In the wake of a flood of complaints about Apple's new Maps app in iOS 6, there's word of a potential alternative. On Friday, a new report indicates that Google is getting ready its version of its Maps app for the new OS -- even as Apple appears to be hard at work to fix the problems.
The report, originating in The Guardian, only said that the new version of Google's popular software "will appear in time," although there are other reports that the new version is expected to be released by the holiday season.
'Better It Will Get'
There are also rumors that the app is complete and has already been submitted to Apple for inclusion in the App Store. It's possible Apple could reject the offering on the grounds that it interferes with current functionality, but many observers believe the resulting howls would make the current complaint storm look like a drizzle.
It's the current functionality of the Apple Maps app that's the key issue. Complaints about the Maps app have been flooding the Web over the last few days. Many of the issues concern the quality and amount of data feeding the app, but Dutch navigation device maker Tom Tom, which is providing the data, has said that their information is solid.
Other complaints include the lack of public transit information, the inability to edit directions en route, inaccurate graphic depictions, the lack of imagery equivalent to Google's Street View, bugs in the searching function, and other problems.
On Thursday, Apple issued a statement that broadly addressed the wave of complaints. It said that the new map service is "a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get." Addressing complaints that public transit and other information are only available via third-party apps, the company said it was working "with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps" in the App Store.
'Made a Lot of Sense'
There's also a pending question about why Apple chose to drop the popular Google Maps in the first place. Apple has said that its license expired, but has also noted that Google had been updating the Android version of Maps but not the iOS one. For instance, the iPhone version didn't have turn-by-turn directions or vector-based images, both of which are present on Android.
Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, said Apple's decision to invest in mapping "made a lot of sense," particularly in light of the growing competition between the two giants and the now-essential importance of map-based apps on smartphones.
But, he added, "if most of the complaints about the new iOS 6 are only about Maps, then Apple" is in pretty good shape.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, said he hoped that if there is a Google Maps app for iOS 6, it will include the ability for users to log into their Google account and retrieve preferences between devices.
At any rate, he said, Apple "won't be dropping its Maps app anytime soon...or ever."
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