For five years, iPhone users enjoyed the luxury of having native access to Google Maps on their smartphones. But when Apple wanted to include voice navigation and genuine turn-by-turn directions in the app, and Google refused, the Cupertino-based company ditched Google Maps and made its own Maps app that launched with the iOS 6 software update.
Over the ensuing months, Apple Maps have become the laughing stock of the mobile space. The poor mapping data and cartography that Apple Maps has delivered has been at the center of a significant amount of criticism, and caused Apple to apologize for the situation and oust both iOS head Scott Forstall and maps manager Richard Williamson.
Then, earlier this week, Google Maps made its highly-anticipated return to iOS as a third-party app on the App Store. Interestingly, Google included both vector-based maps and voice navigation in its app, the same features that Apple was reportedly denied by Google in the first place. And, according to many, the Google Maps app is actually better than Apple Maps.
Based on the consumer enthusiasm and accolades that Google Maps has received in its return to the iPhone, you can imagine that Apple is quite displeased. John Gruber of Daring Fireball goes as far as saying that Apple’s collective executive team is “seething” over the whole situation.
Apple’s plan was for their own mapping service to be, if not as good as Google’s, at least good enough that it didn’t make us miss Google’s map data. I think Apple — where by “Apple”, I mean the company’s collective executive leadership — is seething regarding the way this has played out. Everything from Apple Maps being the butt of jokes to the accolades and joy that have accompanied the release of the new Google Maps iOS app. Seething.
Gruber believes that Apple Maps still has a better design over Google Maps, while mapping data should improve on Apple’s side in the foreseeable future. But, in the meantime, Google appears to have the last laugh.