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

The ongoing Google Maps and Apple Maps saga continues, but the direction it will take is still unclear.
November 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.