When Apple removed the Google powered Maps app from iOS it also lost some of Google’s core features. It may have gained a new 3D mode, but for many people this has been a pale comparison to the usefulness of Google’s Street View. If you are travelling to an unfamiliar building, having a general idea of what that building looks like from the front is much more useful than knowing what it looks like from the sky.
Google is working on a new Google Maps app for iOS but this is a long way from completion, and won’t be available from the App Store for a “few months”. But Street View is once again available for iOS 6 users now that it has been added to the Google Maps mobile web app. Previously Street View had only been available for the desktop version of Google Maps.
To use Street View on the iPhone users can head to the Google Maps homepage and begin searching. The new Street View feature is not quite as functional as the desktop version as it does not include the ability to zoom in, but images are generally very high quality. You can still spin the view around 360 degrees, but the motion effect has been removed when you move around streets.
Google has no doubt introduced this support to cash in on the negative experience that some iPhone users are having with the new iOS Maps app. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently apologised publically for the app, which is filled with incorrect location data, missing public transport information and badly rendered 3D models.
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Google had previously supplied the mapping data for iOS and had a contract with Apple to provide these services. The reason Google was originally chosen is that the Maps app was only a last minute addition to the first iPhone, and at that time Google had one of the best mapping services around, and also a good relationship with Apple.
The relationship between the two companies has since soured and Apple has been keen to remove Google’s influence from iOS and the iPhone as much as possible, including from its Maps. Google still had another year remaining on its contract with Apple to supply map data which is why the company was taken by surprise by Apple’s decision to drop Google data in favour of Yelp and TomTom at this year’s WWDC.
This is the reason why there has not been a new Google Maps app for iOS released yet, as Google has been working on introducing some of Apple’s new features such as 3D flyover and this will take several months of development. More cynical commenters have suggested that Google is deliberately holding back from releasing a new Google Maps app to the App Store to maximise the negative effect that the Apple Maps app is having on iPhone and iPad users.
Regardless, a new Google Maps app is in development and will be released in the coming months. It has been speculated that this redesigned Maps will be one of the core features of Android Key Lime Pie, likely to be launched in November on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 2 and LG Optimus G Nexus, and that the iOS version will not be released until some point after that date. Until then, iPhone users experiencing problems with Apple’s Maps or those who just wish to use Street View will need to do so from the mobile web app.
This is a guest post by Simon from the UK phone comparison website best-mobile-contracts.co.uk.