A leaked image, allegedly from an early version of iOS 6, suggests that Apple may dump Google Maps from the next version of its mobile device operating system, according to Macworld UK.
This allegedly leaked iOS 6 screenshot shows Stamen Design’s “Watercolor” tiles laid out using OpenStreetMap data.
The screenshot, above, is using the new “watercolor” graphics mode from Stamen Design, which is based on OpenStreetMap, a “Wikipedia” of sorts for global maps. If it’s legit, and if Apple stayed with this solution, it suggests that Apple may replace Google Maps in the coming OS.
Apple has used Google Maps to provide mapping data on its iDevices since the very first iPhone, but recently the Cupertino company has begun to quietly shed the search giant in favor of alternative sources.
For example, while the desktop version of iPhoto continues to use Google’s data, the recently released iPhoto for iOS uses OpenStreetMap data, albeit without proper credit, combined with custom Apple tiles likely derived from the company’s acquisition of mapping firms PlaceBase, Poly9 and C3.
While this leak contains little credibility on its face — the image could have easily been modified — when examined in the context of Apple’s aggressive acquisitions of mapping technology and the company’s increasing rivalry with Google over the Android smartphone platform, it would not be a surprise to see Apple remove Google as the default provider of services on its iOS platform.
It is also possible, however, that the image was taken from within iPhoto for iOS, which already uses OpenStreetMap, and that Apple will retain Google for the core maps functionality of the next iOS.