iOS 6 was not what iPhone and iPad owners were hoping for when it was released on Sept. 19. Sure, the upgrade included more than 200 new features to the mobile operating system, making it smarter and generally more fluid, but the backlash against Apple’s all-new Maps application, which CEO Tim Cook later apologized for being half-baked, was a major blow to the platform.
Luckily for those users still mourning the loss of Google Maps, Google is reportedly working very hard on an all-new proprietary Google Maps application for iOS 6, and according to mobile developer Ben Guild, the native application is currently in Alpha.
“It’s coming. It’s in alpha. It’s shown below,” Guild wrote on his blog. He also added that “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.”
In the software world, the alpha phase of the release life cycle is the first phase for actual testing of the software, in which the focus of the testing is on the internal structures of the application itself, rather than the application’s various functions. Once the application is “feature complete,” it can move to the beta phase, which usually then made available for outside developers to help test for bugs, speed and general performance.
On Sunday morning, Guild posted screenshots of the alpha Google Maps application for iOS 6 on his personal blog. While the photos themselves are blurry, at least it’s a sign that Google Maps lovers won’t have to wait very long until their favorite mapping and navigation application is (hopefully) restored to its former glory.
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How To Get Google Maps on iOS 6 Right Now
Users seem to think that Apple, having chosen to remove Google Maps from the iOS home screen, has effectively killed off the Google Maps experience for any user that wants it. 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 in the new application are Street View and the old stylish animations for when a pin would drop on a location, but other than that, all of the old features from Google’s popular Maps app are still there. Users can find local businesses by searching any number of terms, and they can also view areas’ traffic, transit and cycling routes, as well as see 2D and 3D satellite views.
When To Expect The Native Google Maps App On iOS 6
Apple and Google are both racing around the clock to finish and fix their mapping application issues, but as far as Google Maps goes, when can we expect the application to hit the App Store?
Neither Guild nor any software developers were willing to guestimate how long it might take for Google Maps to release on the App Store, it’s most likely that the app would arrive in about three to five months from now, at most.
Google has an incredible opportunity to take another bite out of Apple’s new Maps application, and everyone at the search giant knows that. Google Maps on iOS is certainly on the fast track for development, but once the application is sufficiently built and tested, it needs to be sent to Apple for App Store approval, and who knows how long that might take?
If this report is true and Google Maps is indeed in alpha, we most likely won’t get a beta version of the app until at least November. Accounting for the holiday seasons around that time, it’s safe to say Google Maps won’t be its own iOS app until early December – January or February 2013 at the latest. Google wants iOS users to have plenty of time to switch to Android if they want, but they certainly don’t want to lose those iOS customers either during this very critical period for Apple Maps.