While it has not been a secret that Apple has been working on its own mapping program to get out from under the wing of Google Maps, it has mainly been a lot of third-party speculation and predictions. Today, the Wall Street Journal has reported that current and former Apple employees have confirmed that the company is working on a proprietary map app and that it may be announced at next week’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
Google and Apple have been coexisting in a symbiotic relationship since the release of the iPad in 2007. The iPhone got a boost from Google because of the great map app function that came preloaded in the phone. Google got a boost from Apple because 90 percent of all iPhone users were accessing the company’s map. They were getting along just fine until Google decided to compete with Apple in the mobile market.
According to sources that spoke to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been working on a way to get Google Maps off the iPhone for years, spurred on by the fact that Google’s Android software has overtaken iOS in unit shipments.
Over the years, Apple has acquired three map companies, Placebase, Poly9 and C3 Technologies, and has combined their technology with preexisting proprietary mapping software. The company released its own, “geocoder” technology in an earlier update that replaced Google’s version. This past March, Apple switched its mapping program in iPhoto for iOS to a version that was based on the open source service OpenStreetMap.
It seems that Apple and Google have been bickering behind closed doors for a while now. According to the WSJ article, Apple didn’t like the fact that Google was gathering information from iPhone users that the former felt came too close to violating users’ privacy. Google also withheld the StreetView feature from iPhones, something that it does offer in Android’s map app. The missing turn-by-turn navigation feature is apparently due to the fact that Apple’s terms for Google were unfair.
This move away from Google Maps in the iPhone may just be the first step for Apple’s desire to wean customers off of Google altogether. According to managing director of Rutberg & Co Rajeev Chand, “Apple is aiming squarely at Google on multiple dimensions.” Chand believes that the two companies are fighting for data devices, services and the future of computing. “This is the historic battle of today,” said Chand.
Whether Apple will continue to utilize some aspect of Google’s map in iOS, or do away with the Android maker’s program altogether, we will be on hand to bring you the news as it develops at next week’s WWDC.