It’s no secret that companies like Apple are trying to reduce dependency on Google for online services like mapping. iOS 6, which runs the latest Apple iPhone 5, no longer uses Google Maps as its native mapping application. While Google has released an update to its native Maps app for Android, there’s still no word on whether it does plan to release an iOS6 app at all.
In an statement to Search Engine Land, Google says it wants Google Maps to be available to as many platforms possible. However, there’s no specific mention of native apps.
We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.
The keywords here are “regardless of device.” This may initially be thought to mean that Google is, indeed, working on a new standalone Maps app for iOS 6 devices — as well as others, too. However, this can also be read another way. Perhaps Google wants to focus on its mobile web app instead, making it a truly cross-platform application, instead of having separate native apps.
Google Maps is still accessible on iOS 6 through the mobile browser. While it’s not as convenient as launching a native iOS application, the mobile web variant does offer access to services like traffic and driving directions. Mobile web users might even notice the line “The same Google Maps, now in your mobile browser.”
Does this mean Google is focusing on the mobile web version instead? Will it ever release a standalone app for the new iPhone 5? The new native YouTube app seems to be popular — it’s the top free app on the iTunes App Store just a week after launch. Will iPhone users also be clamoring for a new Maps app?
Here comes the app vs. mobile web argument. Even Facebook itself admits that using an HTML5-powered app for Android was a mistake, and the company is focusing on re-building a native app for the platform. Will Google make the same mistake, or is it confident that users won’t miss having a native app so much?