Google Maps struggles to find its way to the Apple App Store

by: Joshua VergaraNovember 5, 2012

It seems that the direction for Google’s iOS Maps application will remain unclear for now. Since the iPhone 5 was released, Apple has stuck to its own Apple Maps app as the default on all iOS 6 devices. Users have been outspoken about the inability to use their favorite maps application on the iPhone, and have been showing disdain over the quality of Apple’s own offering. A version of Google Maps on iOS is supposedly in the works, but sources at the search giant have told The Guardian they are ‘not optimistic’ about their application making it into the Apple App Store any time soon.

This speculation comes at the heels of Apple’s own attempts to quell the negative reaction to Apple Maps, which a number of users have complained about. Areas are labeled incorrectly, for example, and given directions sometimes bring users miles and miles away from the intended destination. Apple CEO Tim Cook has recently pulled a rare move on the company’s part and issued a letter essentially apologizing for the quality of the product – he even went as far as to suggest users use alternative applications such as MapQuest and Waze, “while [Apple is] improving Maps.”

Also, a section of the App Store was created to hold a curated list of these alternative maps applications. Of course, the Google Maps app is nowhere to be seen in this list, though the web-based version was mentioned – in Cook’s letter, he stated that it is possible to bookmark Google Maps as a way to easily access that service. This solution is very inelegant, however, as the web based version of Maps is much slower and key features such as location pinning are not available there.

Image credit: Consumer Reports

The Guardian posits that Google and Apple are, indeed, in constant communication and that if it keeps up, anything can happen. CNET, on the other hand, believes that it is only a matter of time until Google Maps returns. Citing the fact that Google Maps (though web-based) was indeed touted as a viable alternative, CNET believes that Apple is not above an eventual approval of the app version. Just as important is the history of app battles between these two giants – in the past, user outcries have resulted in Apple’s compromises with its base, and such instances should mean that its last desire is to invite a media storm in the wake of a negative response to Google Maps.

Perhaps one outcome is that even if it does come back onto the Apple mobile platform, no one should expect Google Maps to be a default application ever again. Nonetheless, this is yet another episode in the ongoing saga. Hopefully Google Maps will find its way back to iPhone users soon, and Apple Maps will… well, generally just find its way.

  • Kindroid

    If Google makes public that they have a Google Maps app ready for iOS….Apple will have no choice but to let it in. Between disgruntled consumers and watchful Federal regulators….game’s up.

  • carlisimo

    In the last six months I’ve seen several apps in the iOS App Store that duplicate native OS functionality (like music apps and photo apps that work with Picasa). A year ago that would’ve been unthinkable, but Apple’s been opening up. I wouldn’t be concerned about them shutting down Google Maps, especially after Cook told everyone to place a bookmark to the web version on the homescreen.

    The interesting thing will be if Google allows turn-by-turn navigation in that app. Their refusal to do so in previous versions was what convinced Apple to go off on its own. If Google enables it in the new app, many iOS users will use it forever and Apple Maps will be dealt a major blow. If Google doesn’t enable it, then people will use Google Maps only until Apple Maps has improved enough in their areas. (In my area Apple Maps is already good enough, so the speed advantage and turn by turn would make it my maps app of choice… except my only iOS device is an iPad, which I tend to leave at home.)

  • Doan

    “Just as important is the history of app battles between these two giants – in the past, user outcries have resulted in Apple’s compromises with its base”

    What are some examples of this? Specifically regarding Google applications and Apple’s App Store.

    • Joshua Vergara

      The main one regards Google Voice – for quite a while, the Voice app was nowhere to be found in the App Store. After sustained scrutiny, the FCC actually intervened and checked with Apple (and eventually the phone companies, mainly AT&T, got involved) to see why the application seemed non-existent.

      More recently was the weird exclusion of the original YouTube app from a ‘featured’ page in the App Store showcasing video apps. After Apple stopped supporting their own version of iOS YouTube, the official app was greatly received but not touted in the list. This was thought to be intentional, and after some time the app eventually made it onto the list. It is unsure why exactly YouTube wasn’t featured, but some found it a little too odd, as lists like these (including the maps list mentioned in this post) are curated by Apple.

  • droidmike

    or they will just keep it off and i will smile a little while longer

  • Sara

    Yet the stupid and blind sheeple remain faithful to apple despite their crappy maps app. They still throw mounds of money to crapple yet don’t realize apple are trying to monopolize everything!