A report came out today, which claims that
sources inside of Google are “not optimistic” that
Apple will approve the submission of a Google
Maps app into the iTunes App Store. But, we
think the pessimism is extremely premature, and
maybe beyond that this is actually a push by
Google to avoid that exact fate.
Earlier today, The Guardian reported that an iOS
version of the Google Maps app is in development
and it should be ready to ship by the end of the
year, which means the app has to be almost done
if it could launch within the next 2 months. The
report also says that the sources inside Google are
“not optimistic” that the app will be approved by
Apple, and that Google is proceeding as if such
approval is “unlikely”.
The quick rundown is that Apple had been using
Google Maps as the baked-in maps app in iOS,
and Apple still had a year left on that deal, but
chose to replace Google Maps with its own. Rumor
has it that Google was withholding features like
turn-by-turn and vector graphics from Apple in
order to give Android an advantage, but that
hasn’t been confirmed. Either way, Apple moved
to its own maps, which it had been building for
the past few years, and Apple’s new Maps app
was hit with a ton of bad press upon release,
because of a number of problems. Since then,
Scott Forstall who had been in charge of Apple’s
Maps project has left the company, and users
have been calling for Google to release its own
Maps app into the iTunes App Store, and Apple
has suggested users try alternatives as the
company works hard to fix the problems.
Sentiment is split within Google as to whether or
not Scott Forstall’s departure would be a good or
bad thing for Google’s own maps app, but that
Apple will undoubtedly “keep moving forward in
an effort to make its obviously inferior product
better”. Apparently, Google insiders are also
pointing to the iTunes App Store itself as proof
that Apple won’t approve a Google Maps app,
because a new section in iTunes highlights
alternative maps apps, but doesn’t list apps
which use Google Maps APIs and resources like
Quick Route or Maps+.
Of course, the fact that these apps aren’t listed
also points out the flaw in the Google insider
thinking: there are already maps app alternatives
in the iTunes Store that are essentially 3rd party
Google Maps apps, so how can anyone
legitimately claim that Apple wouldn’t approve an
official Google Maps app? It makes no sense. As
long as Google isn’t using any of Apple’s
undocumented iOS APIs in the Google Maps app,
there is no good reason why Apple would deny
the app submission.
Apple has already
learned its lesson on this front with the Google
Voice app, which Apple denied submission. The
FCC opened up an investigation on the matter
and essentially forced Apple to approve the app.
Since then, Apple has never significantly delayed
a Google app, even letting through a buggy Gmail
app. Apple has also opened up the App Store to
browser alternatives and more.
And, that’s the real trouble here. Just like some
people still cling to the outdated notion that
Android is a buggy mess, some people still use
the idea that Apple will refuse an app submission
as a scare tactic. The truth is that the bad press
and geek rage alone will be enough to pressure
Apple into approving a Google Maps app, if Apple
drags its feet. Apple’s own Maps app may not be
great, but it still has the benefit of being baked-in
to iOS, so any calls for directions or place
searches will be directed to that maps app and
not an alternative. Siri won’t be able to work with
anything but the Apple Maps app, so all
alternatives are already at a disadvantage.
Apple doesn’t really have any good reasons to
deny a Google Maps app, and just like with
alternative web browsers, Apple still has the
advantage over alternative maps apps, because
of how iOS works. So, if anything, this report and
the thoughts of the Google insiders may just be
nothing more than priming the media. Google
needs us to be on the watch, because it’s the
media pressure that Apple would actually respond
to. If it’s behind the scenes, Apple might delay a
Google Maps app, but if it’s in the public eye,
Apple has no valid reasons to hold it back. Google
will surely let someone in the media know when
the Google Maps app has been submitted, but we
definitely don’t expect there to be any delays, or
impediments by Apple, but we’ll be watching.

TechWrapZA

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