Apple launched its iPhone 5 to much fanfare, with media and technology writers from both sides of the OS divide (Android vs. iOS) providing adequate coverage. One particular point that neither side missed was the fact that Apple’s iOS 6 launched without Google Maps as its built-in mapping app.
Now that might have proved to be a problematic decision for Apple, as users have been expressing their disappointment of the new iOS Maps. According to Nilay Patel and Adi Robertson at The Next Web, the new mapping app lacks significant amount of detail. It omits public transport directions. The new iOS maps have even mistakenly labeled some locations, such as the Irish farm that was mis-labeled as an airport because of its name “Airfield Garden, Farm, Cafe.”
While I don’t think a Jumbo Jet will be landing on that particular “airfield” anytime soon, this does underscore the issue whether there was a problem for Apple to solve at all, in the first place. Why did they need to remove Google Maps, when it was working fine. “They’re going to get hammered by mom and pop who want to find a store. It’s going to be messy for them,” says iMore editor Rene Ritche.
Here’s a potentially beneficial piece of news, however. It seems that contrary to earlier reports that Google might be delaying its native iOS Maps app in favor of HTML5, the search company has actually submitted its new app to Apple, as The Guardian reports.
The same sources say that Google is preparing a Google Maps app for iOS6, which will appear in time. No official statement has been made and there will inevitably be questions over whether Apple will approve it in the App Store. (Apple might not, on the basis that it “competes with existing functionality”, but would invite a further backlash if it did.)
Now it’s up to Apple whether to approve the app or not. It might decide to forego the app, on the basis of competition with existing functionality. But if Apple decision-makers are smart (which I don’t doubt they are), they’d better approve Google Maps, if only to bring back the level of detail that users are clamoring for — especially in rural areas.
Otherwise, this could be another big, overblown issue for Apple, much like “Antennagate” of 2010’s iPhone 4. Will this turn out to be “Mapgate?”