Google Working on iOS Maps App, Doubts Apple Approval

Find Maps

Google is working on its own Google Maps iOS app, but there is doubt internally at the search giant that Apple will ever approve it. The Guardian reported that Google sources expects it to be ready for submission to Apple by year's end, but they don't believe it will make into the App Store.

At the root of this story is Apple's decision to dump Google Maps in favor of an Apple-developed solution. When Apple released iOS 6, Google Maps was out and Apple Maps was in, but it was met with initial skepticism and scorn.

The fallout from that has been somewhat enormous. On the one hand, customers are buying iPhones aplenty and many aspects of Apple Maps are outstanding. On the other, mistakes and bad data continue to exist, and Apple Maps has been the butt of jokes hither and yon.

Apple CEO Tim Cook went so far as to apologize for disappointing customers in a letter that former iOS and Apple Maps head Scott Forstall reportedly refused to sign. That refusal was then reportedly the straw that broke the camel's back for Mr. Forstall, who was sacked, with his areas of responsibility being divided up amongst Apple's other top executives.

Apple also took the nearly unprecendented step of directing customers to try out competing map apps on the App Store, a collection that noticeably didn't include Google because Google Maps was distributed by Apple.

In the meanwhile, Google has had an understandable moment of schadenfreude as Apple squirmed under the criticism. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said point blank that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps and that the company was learning the hard way that maps are hard.

So, enter Monday's story from the UK, where Google sources told The Guardian that it is working on a standalone iOS Maps app in "the unlikely event" that Apple approves it.

The company has new reason to doubt, for its standpoint, because of Apple's "Find maps for your iPad" feature in the App Store. That's a section within the App Store promoted on the home page. As you can see in the screenshot below, it features ten mapping apps, but not one of them uses Google's Maps API (application programming interface), and Google thinks this isn't a coincidence.

No, really, find maps.

Find maps (using anything but Google) for your iPad

There are, however, map apps on Apple's App Store that do tap Google Maps APIs, such Maps+ (free) and Quick Route (US$4.99). We should point out that by that reasoning, Apple would approve Google's Maps app, while refusing to promote it, but Google's concern is understandable.

One of The Guardian's sources inside Google said that Apple has left out such apps because they promote Google's "superior product." Google's concern is still understandable, but it remains to be seen if it's justified.