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Google IOS Software Upgrades Apple Technology

Revamped Google Maps Finally Available On iOS 279

Posted by timothy
from the no-more-billabong-diving dept.
hcs_$reboot writes "After the disastrous Apple Maps replacement over Google Maps in September, Google has a Maps app on iOS approved and released by Apple today. The app includes turn-by-turn directions, vector-based graphics and live traffic data. It's available from the Apple Store for iPhone and iPod touch (and iPad — iPhone format)." Adds reader snowtigger: "It's a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views. Google also released the Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a simple URL scheme to help developers use Google Maps when building their beautiful and innovative apps. The new Google Maps app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (4th gen) iOS 5.1 and higher, in more than 40 countries and 29 languages." SlashCloud points out that Apple's own maps will be forced to improve as a consequence: "Directions will become more accurate, major towns and landmarks will appear in their proper places. But now that a free, standalone Google Maps app is available for download from Apple’s App Store, will iOS users even give those improving Apple Maps a chance?"
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Revamped Google Maps Finally Available On iOS

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  • Re:Opportunity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by d3vi1 (710592) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:09AM (#42272151)

    If you were Apple, you wouldn't have survived the 90's.
    While the Apple maps data is not the best in some places, I can say that they're doing a much better job improving than everyone else. It took Google a few years to have any roads listed in most European countries. Apple started with complete maps. I've compared the coverage of Apple, Google, Nokia, Bing and OSM on quite a few occasions and OSM is the only one better than the rest. Google, Apple, Nokia and Bing are not showing one third of the motorways in Romania. I'm not talking about a forgotten secondary road somewhere up in the mountains, I'm talking about (albeit a few) hundreds of kilometers of motorways.
    The application isn't bad at all. It's still superior to Google's, at least for now. The data might be flawed in some places, but you should give them a few months to get it right. I'm quite sure that when Google Maps first appeared, their data wasn't optimal either. Their maps are now much better due to community effort in apps like mapmaker.
    In case you're an idiot and couldn't figure this out by yourself, I'm going to spell it out: it makes perfect business sense to build your own maps application if your biggest competitors (Google, Microsoft, Nokia) all have their own solutions. What do you think the licensing costs would be if Apple attempted to license a maps solution from Nokia's Navteq or from Microsoft's Bing?

  • Re:Apple Maps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:13AM (#42272213) Journal

    Yeah. Apparently Apple has finally figured out that killing your customers isn't good business. /snark =

    Works out pretty well for the tobacco industry.

  • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:24AM (#42272351)
    I would more say this was a win-win for Google. They made demands of Apple, Apple said 'no, we can do this without you', Apple took a huge PR hit for pushing out a sub-par application that did not have Google's data anymore... and now Google has swept in to save the day with their own branded application instead...

    Google ends up looking good, Apple takes pretty much all the PR damage.. and Google gets to remind Apple who is more powerful.
  • by Andy Prough (2730467) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:53AM (#42272815)
    I saw that - gmaps sending people head-on into oncoming traffic - more dangerous than being led into a desert!
  • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EMN13 (11493) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @09:58AM (#42272877) Homepage

    That's not a reasonable position for Apple to take; not at all. They could have simply left the old gmaps app since their license had not *yet* expired, and at least avoided this debacle. Furthermore, you present "plastering" google's logo all over the app as if its certain this was something truly terrible - when that's not sure at all; it's not unreasonable to claim credit for an app you made so a logo might be reasonable.

    All in all - if both parties had wanted this to work out they would have made it work. It's certain apple wasn't being reasonable, and quite believable Google wasn't either (but we really only have Apple's word for that). In any case - it's Apple's device; they're Apple customers, and that makes it Apple's responsibility to come up with a solution that doesn't suck - whether that solution involves using an old-fashioned app for another year, or a different provider, or kowtowing to Google isn't really important.

    Regardless of who else is involved, Apple chose to harm their customers, probably intentionally, because that fit their strategic aims better. Given apple's dealings with samsung (and others), Apple doesn't come across as a very open-minded company: does it really surprise anyone they played hardball even if doing so cost them something?

    Put it this way: if you blame some third party for a seller's failure to provide quality goods, that's not exactly a great incentive for said seller to be fair with you the next time - why bother? Defending Apple for their abuse of their customers reminds me a little too much of the stockholm syndrome for comfort.

    I don't think these power-fights are good for customers.

  • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:11AM (#42273071)

    Why is Google the villain?

    No one said Google was the villain. No one has to be a villain. 2 companies simply failed to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. That doesn't make either of them wrong.

  • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gutnor (872759) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:25AM (#42273353)

    WinWin for us.

    We used to have a sub-par Mapping application on iPhone. Now we have 2. Even better, with Apple pushing his own map app, Google will not be able to keep as under-featured as before.

    At the end of the day, that's the take-home message for people looking at buying an iPhone. All the rest is just noise by people looking at the whole affair with their favorite-brand colored glasses.

  • Re:Opportunity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by medcalf (68293) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:30AM (#42273459) Homepage
    Absolutely a win for consumers. We now have two vector-based maps apps with turn by turn directions and really clean interfaces, where before we had none. Google's data seems a little better, Apple's maps a little prettier. I suspect that both will improve over time: competition is good.
  • Re:Opportunity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donny77 (891484) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:31AM (#42273489)
    Yes and no. The general public will largely see this the way you describe, but you are missing one key component. The demands Apple did not want to "give in to" were customer data and privacy demands specified in the Apple TOS. To get Google Maps in the App store, Google had to comply with those standards. So Google did not get everything they wanted. Apple has the features Android had in Google Maps without having to concede on the privacy standards they have set. So, in actuality, Apple did "win," just not in public opinion.
  • Re:Opportunity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @10:41AM (#42273703)

    Honestly, I don't get why they didn't support or help Google from the start.

    They did. Apple was more then happy to work with Google the search, maps and video company. To the extent that they even had a Google exec on the Apple board of directors. (Eric Schmidt). Google was represented on the original iPhone by search, youTube and maps app. A positoin no other company had. And one could have expected that relationshop to grow through later revisions of iOS.

    What stopped it was Google developing copy-cat phone OS of their own. It's a bad idea to de dependant on a competitor in the very same market. And so bit by bit, Google is being phased out of the OS and default application set.

    For much the same reason, Apple is clearly moving towards eliminating Samsung components in their hardware.

  • Re:ontrack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#42274473) Homepage Journal

    If Google would have bothered to keep the iOS version even close to what they offered in Android

    Google never wrote the old Maps app for iOS. Google supplied map data and Apple wrote the app; that was the arrangement from the beginning. Ditto for the Youtube app: Google never even saw the source code for it, much less wrote any of it.

    You're both right, according to the best public information available... Apple wrote the app, but was only licensed to use the raster data and forbidden from doing turn-by-turn directions or other modern features by the license. Google refused to renew the license without adding all kinds of tracking into iOS, which Apple refused to allow. Since the license was set to expire before the next major version of iOS would have come out, Apple was forced to switch maps in this version.

    And it mostly succeeded. It's hard to argue that the new map imagery isn't way, way better than what Google previously licensed Apple. Map imagery is crisper, faster, caches better, and is generally more readable. And routing directions are actually pretty good, taking into account traffic, etc. It's really just the geo-location that Apple dropped the ball on, and the public transit that Apple needlessly complicated.

    Geo-location is quickly being fixed, but is the biggest glaring problem and really the crux of the matter. Public transit has a million other alternatives in most metropolitan areas and does link directly from Maps, but is less convenient... hopefully Apple will revamp this in iOS 7 and allow integrated plugins for Maps.

    In the meantime, it's nice to see Google bringing an alternative to the platform, for anyone willing to trade their privacy for better geolocation.

  • Re:ontrack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @11:52AM (#42274971)

    tl:dr

    Apple maps was an improvement over the previous google maps except it couldn't tell you where stuff actually was.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:15PM (#42275413)

    Look at the Google Maps SDK licensing terms [google.com].

    Until Apple switched over to Apple Maps, those were the terms that iOS developers had to live with using the mapping SDK. Apple offers unlimited geocoding queries, Google has a limit of 2500 per day across all instances of your application!

    Google also has higher limits if you pay them, but even those limits are way too low for a popular application.

    Also under the Google Map regime, developers COULD NOT provide turn my turn directions on top of Google Maps. Now that Apple is providing maps there is no restriction at all to what overlays a developer chooses to put on a map.

    In the end are not the users of a system served better by an endless variety of applications free to use maps in any way they like? It's not about any ONE application, it's about thousands of them.

  • Re:Opportunity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cinder6 (894572) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:48PM (#42276049)

    This, exactly. When people say that they miss the old Maps app, I always wonder if they were using the same app as I was, because the old one was nigh unusable for me. No turn-by-turn, have to have the app open for it to be of any use, poor Siri integration, slow-rendering raster tiles... It just sucked.

    So Apple dumps it for a variety of reasons and releases a new app based on their own data. The interface is far superior to the old app, it has vector tiles, turn-by-turn, and Siri integration. The problem? For lots of people, the map data itself isn't as good. Being kicked out forces Google to release their own, competitive app with the previously missing features. Since it will presumably have better map data, or at least POI data, this will force Apple to improve their own product.

    This is how the free market is supposed to work. It's unfortunate Apple apparently rushed its inclusion of Maps in iOS 6, but every iOS user today is better off than they were with iOS 5.

    There is one thing about this story that is odd, though, and that is that it took Google so long to make an app. The writing was on the wall for quite some time before iOS 6 was announced (let alone released), and yet they still seemed caught flat-footed. Also, I enjoy that everyone who claimed Apple would never allow this app into the store were all proven wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:23PM (#42276713)

    In another year they may well surpass Google overall if they keep fixing reported errors.

    You remind me of a friend I had when I was 5. He was 4. He said, "when I turn 6, I'll be older than you!"

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