Search engine giant Google is testing an edition of its mapping application, Google Maps, for Apple’s recently updated iOS software.
Google is distributing a version of the application to users outside the company before it submits the app for review and acceptance to Apple’s online App Store, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which quoted unnamed sources “with direct knowledge of the matter.” A Google mapping app would compete directly with Apple’s own in-house map app, which was released to widespread scorn and derision when it debuted in the fall.
“We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world,” said an unnamed Google spokesperson quoted in the report. “Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser or operating system.”
When Apple released iOS 6, the operating system replaced not only Google Maps but also Google’s YouTube application that had previously been preinstalled on the iPhone and iPad devices. Apple’s decision to swap out the maps application with its own in-house technology was viewed by many as an attempt to increase competition with Google, whose Android mobile operating system dominates the worldwide mobile device market. Android continues to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012, according to a recent report from IT analytics firm Gartner.
While the launch of the iPhone 5 was regarded as a success for Apple, the maps debacle was a rare, and very high profile miss for a company prized for its attention to detail and enviable levels of customer satisfaction. Among the loudest complaints are incorrect maps, its inability to display points of interest and a total lack of transit directions for mass transit systems in large cities, which Apple says it will be adding later. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology at the end September—a move that analysts said was necessary but also signaled a new era at Apple.
“This is the post-Steve Jobs era of Apple,” Dan Maycock of Slalom Consulting told eWeek in a Sept. 29 interview. “The shiny facade has faded. Apple is now a company like every other company. Steve Jobs would have never apologized, but this also would never have happened under his watch. They’ve released bad products before, but they had Steve Jobs’ ego to back them up and that ego really set the direction for Apple. The old belief was that Steve Jobs knew what he was talking about, and that he had a ‘what could possibly go wrong attitude.'”