Apple Fires iOS 6 Maps Chief: A Fresh Start For Eddy Cue As Pressure Mounts To Compete With Google

 @redletterdave
on November 28 2012 5:15 PM

Apple's plan to replace Google Maps with its own solution in iOS 6 turned out to be quite the controversy. After issuing an apology from its CEO and forcing out its iOS chief Scott Forstall, Apple finally cut ties with the last major player responsible for Apple's half-baked mapping application on Tuesday. 

According to Bloomberg, Apple had fired Richard Williamson, the manager directly responsible for Apple Maps in iOS 6. Eddy Cue, Apple's senior VP of software and online services -- who also took over direction for the Maps and Siri team following Forstall's departure -- was reportedly the man to deliver the news to Williamson.

"Cue, 48, senior vice president overseeing Apple’s online services, pushed out maps supervisor Richard Williamson in a management shakeup soon after taking over the program, said people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. Cue is seeking advice from outside map-technology experts and prodding maps provider TomTom NV (TOM2) to fix landmark and navigation data it shares with Apple."

Apple -- but Cue, in particular -- is under a great deal of pressure to deliver fixes to Apple Maps immediately. Even though iOS 6 was the most widespread and most successful major software update in Apple's history -- Tim Cook announced at its iPad Mini event on Oct. 23 that more than 200 million devices have already upgraded to the new platform -- the decision to boot Google Maps for an error-prone solution from Apple had many users cursing Cupertino, claiming their areas weren't properly marked, or their businesses were missing entirely.

In other words, the transition was anything but seamless.

"Maps are a mission-critical application, and consumers have to trust that what they are seeing is correct," said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Apple will have to work really hard to re-earn that trust."

Apple better move quickly: Even though Google is off the home page for now -- Google's native apps like Maps and YouTube are history -- the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant is reportedly nearly ready to submit its newly-finagled Maps app to the App Store for approval. 

Even though Google reportedly doesn't think Apple will approve its app initially, it's only a matter of time before Apple allows Google Maps once again, just as it allows third-party mapping apps from TomTom, Mapquest, Waze and others. Plus, it's not like Google doesn't have a presence on iOS already. Even today Google offers countless apps through Apple's App Store, including Google Search, Google Local Search, Google Earth, Google+, Google Drive, Google Chrome, Google Translate, GMail, and more (believe it or not).

Back in October, mobile developer Ben Guild said Google's new Maps application was in Alpha. 

"It’s vector based, it’s got two-finger rotation to any angle, it’s super fast, and four-inch height of the iPhone 5 is supported,” Guild wrote on his blog.

With a Google-made Maps solution on its way, Apple has no other option than to focus its energies on correcting its mistakes in its own first-party application. There are clearly many issues in the actual presentation of the app -- public transit is not yet given priority, and is not considered when giving directions -- but what Apple needs right now is data. Data is what makes Google Maps as accurate as it is, and data will be the key to making Apple Maps a more accurate and user-friendly product.

With Williamson out, Eddy Cue needs to strike now. The holiday season is upon us, and Google is temporarily off the front page of iOS. With the soaring popularity of the iPhone 5, Apple needs to issue a few major fixes to iOS 6 Maps before the holiday season ends and before Google Maps is available in the App Store. Luckily, the iPhone 5, iPad Mini and iPad 4 are all pre-loaded with iOS 6 Maps, so Apple will put its solution in front of many eyes within the next two months. All Apple needs to do is deliver.

Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones and 14 million iPads in Q4 2012.

How To Get Google Maps on iOS 6 Right Now

While the application no longer has premium placement on the page and its own dedicated application, it is still possible to use Google Maps in iOS 6.

All iOS users need to do is click on the Safari browser application and visit the Google Maps website (maps.google.com). Once you’ve arrived on the page, users will be prompted with a choice to let Safari and Google Maps use their current location, in which they will need to click “yes,” and after that, users can press the share button at the bottom center of the screen, and click the center option that features the Google Maps application logo, which reads, “Add to Home Screen.”

Once the user clicks that option, Google Maps will be restored on iOS 6. The only features missing are the 3D satellite views and the old stylish animations for when a pin would drop on a location, but other than that, most of the basic features from Google’s popular Maps application are still there. Users can find local businesses by searching any number of terms, use Street View for more realistic navigation, and they can also see areas’ traffic, transit and cycling routes in 2D or satellite views.

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