Google chairman weighs in on Apple Maps fiasco

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has weighed in on the Apple Maps fiasco - and for iPhone and iPad users who use Google Maps, the news is not good.

It seems no Google Maps app for iOS 6 is in the immediate pipeline.

Apple removed both Google's YouTube and Google Maps from iOS 6, the latest upgrade to its software than runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. (iOS 5 featured them as pre-installed applications.)

YouTube fans can download a YouTube app from the iTunes AppStore as a substitute

But in terms of offering a Google Maps app for download, Schmidt said "We have not done anything yet," he said.

Once Google builds an app, Apple will have to approve it for the AppStore, the Google chairman noted.

Your correspondent has installed iOS 6 on his iPhone, and was immediately frustrated by Apple Maps. 

Beyond the basic cartographic blunders (the Auckland CBD railway station is located in the harbour, and the Timaru and Dunedin airports in the wrong place), roads are harder to see, and the Street View option available in Google Maps is missed.

It's worth noting for those frustrated by Apple Maps that Google Maps can still be loaded by typing maps.google.co.nz into your iPhone's web browser - then creating a home page icon. You have to switch from the Mobile to Classic view go get all features - although the desktop version is a bid fiddly on a small screen.

Though also that Apple Maps is not all bad. It's fast; it can somehow tap a list of previous Google Maps searches you're made on your iPhone (or iPad), its predictive search is excellent and its turn-by-turn directions well executed.

Why the fall-out?
According to one US report, Apple's Google Maps contract still had a year to run.

Why the rush to replace it with the home-grown Apple Maps?

The logical motivation would be that Apple wants to control the location-based advertising and business directory services revenue that goes along with mobile maps.

For its part, Google was reportedly pushing for more prominent branding, and frustrated that it was not blocked form adding features like Latitude (location-based services) or turn-by-turn voice directions to the iOS version of Google Maps - which was falling behind the Android version (and Apple, one assumes is also irked that its once close friend Google is now pushing Android so heavily).

But on the record, nobody's talking - at least in any detail.

Apple has made no comment.

Schmidt told a group of journalists in Tokyo, "We think it would have been better if they had kept our [Maps]. But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

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5 Comments & Questions

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The replacement YouTube App is only optimised for the iPhone not the iPad which is pretty disappointing.

I'm led to understand that the Apple Maps app is based on crowdsourced data - partially explaining why there's coastal towns marked inland and you have to apparently swim to Britomart.

As a result, I've stayed with iOS 5, the advantages of iOS 6 don't outweigh the poor Apple Maps (which will get better in time) and the loss of an iPad optimised YouTube App. Especially since many of the touted benefits of iOS 6 aren't really available to NZ customers.

This all reminds me of the XP to Windows Vista debacle... I still have a laptop with XP but my desktop was built using Windows 7. Maybe it's a case of taking even numbered versions going forward for iOS... as opposed to avoiding the even numbered Windows versions...

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Whilst I tried out Apple Maps to navigate home from my office and found it had my address had been "moved" about 500 metres up the road from its actual location, I had just as many frustratyions with the old Google Maps app. I recall on several occasions directions to drive right through the middle of Ellerslie Racecourse to get to my destination and others where the driveway of a house at the end of a cul de sac became an extension of the road and I was directed to drive through their backyard! Even TomTom's $95 NZ app gets heaps of criticicsm so none of them are perfect. I'm sure Apple's mapping will improve and in the meantime there's still the glovebox old map book you can buy at the gas station – assuming Gens Y & Z actually know how to read one that is!

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I'm good with an analog map book, I even have the latest Times Atlas at home but galling when an upgrade results in a worse result. Google maps isn't perfect either, it suggested a ferry and 2 hour detour travelling through Europe last year to Dubrovnik as it didn't consider an overland route through Bosnia was an option - although the guide books don't suggest this either...

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I also love how Apple are putting chips into their new adaptors to lock buyers into Apple products and shut out grey market manufacturers... amazing how the good guys got so easily corrupted by money and power

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Apple are slowly doing again what they did to the apple mac way back - good products but their mentality to be all controlling just gets on their customers wick - not the very loyal customers they stick with them come hell or high water but every time the pull an Itunes stunt or a maps stunt as in this case they start to loose the customers who just want technology and cutting edge technology and are even prepared to forgo some quality to get the latest features. For every one company like apple innovating away there are quite a number of competitors and they collectively bring out several sets of technology a year -the difference is Apple likes to isolate themselves and the others share the same philosophy and slowly Apple will get side lined as it did before. They have good kit to be sure but they like to control their customers and it hurts them in the end.

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