In news that likely doesn’t thrill Apple, Google has released Street View for their web app. This means that with a few quick clicks any iOS user can essentially resurrect Google Maps functionality to the home screen of their device; very good news for people holding out on an upgrade to iOS 6 for fear of losing their Google Maps functionality.
When you conduct a search using Googles web app you will start with the original top-down map view, but a quick glance down toward the lower right-hand corner will reveal a new person-shaped icon that links to the freshly-added (but familiar) Street View.
While there is no question that it isn’t quite as elegant a solution as a true native app for iOS would be, there is little doubt that this is the next-best-thing and provides users with a viable alternative to the Apple Maps app that a great many users seem to love to hate right now.
Of real interest is this little grudge match taking place between Apple and Google. Apple claims they were forced into creating their own mapping app (which is inferior but still in its’ infancy) because Google was unwilling to add turn-by-turn navigation into their iOS app. Now, Google seems to be ramping up their web app as a form of retaliation –but this may have been the plan all along. Google knew first-hand that building a maps app would be a huge undertaking that would have a few stumbles along the way and in the meantime masterminded a solution that meant they wouldn’t really care if Apple dropped them from the list of stock-apps anyway.
If that is the truth, it is a huge gamble –because Apple will surely come back from this maps debacle with an app that will be sure to impress.