It was all too apparent that much of Apple’s iOS 6 announcement took pleasure in shafting Google from its once-prominent presence in the company’s mobile OS. The company’s arguably most-important inclusion, Maps, was replaced by an Apple-owned and controlled solution.
But Google’s Senior Vice President of Commerce & Local, Jeff Huber, said the company would be “providing an amazing Google Maps experience on iOS,” but what does that mean? Are they going to release a stand-alone Maps app to download from the App Store? And if so, what will differentiate it from Apple’s impressive (and newly-default) Maps, which itself includes turn-by-turn navigation and 3D imaging.
We know that Google will be heavily updating its Android mapping feature set to include high-resolution 3D flyovers and a number of excellent improvements to Earth, but that won’t be enough to turn users’ attention. It needs something that Apple cannot offer. Google Maps ties in with Places and Local, the company’s database of shops, restaurants and landmarks; it’s powered by Zagat and provides a lot of great information. But Apple uses Yelp and OpenTable to glean similar data for Siri, which is heavily tied into the OS.
We’re confident that Google will try to bring its Street View feature to iOS — that is the one inclusion Apple hasn’t match Google on — but is that enough to give users a reason to switch? Perhaps, like in Android, the company will bring offline mapping capabilities to iOS, allowing you to cache large swaths of far-away locations for use without a cell signal.
Whatever it is, competition is good for consumers, and Google is thankfully working very hard to counter Apple’s iOS 6 attack.