Apple knows it did wrong with its self-branded Maps application. Since it debuted with iOS 6 on Sept. 19, Apple has tried numerous times to rectify its decision to release the half-baked app, including an apology at the beginning of October from CEO Tim Cook, as well a promise at the end of the month to improve iOS for the future, marked by the departure of iOS chief Scott Forstall and the inauguration of Eddy Cue to replace him as the head of the Maps team.
And even though Apple's App Store has also been friendly enough to offer alternative mapping applications to ameliorate customers upset with Apple's new default Maps app, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company may not be so friendly as to approve a Maps app submission from Google, which used to be responsible for the Maps experience in iOS until the iPhone 5.
On Monday, The Guardian, citing "sources at Google familiar with its mapping plans," said the chances of Apple approving a dedicated Google Maps app on iOS 6 are "not optimistic."
"While one source indicated increased hopes that the dedicated Google Maps iOS app will eventually be approved now that Apple's maps leader, Scott Forstall, has departed the company, another was less than enthusiastic about any increased prospects, citing industry politics and Apple's need to save face as much as possible and 'keep moving forward in an effort to make its obviously inferior product better,'" The Guardian wrote. "The source also cites the present organisation of the App Store, which, to them, suggests Apple has little interested in approving an official Google Maps app."
Even though iOS 6 has been a significant success for Apple -- Tim Cook announced at its iPad Mini event on Oct. 23 that more than 200 million devices have already upgraded to the new platform -- Google sources believe their own Maps app would be "approved quickly" in Cupertino.
"Specifically, they point to the lack of any mapping app in the 'Find maps for your iPhone' section of the App Store -- accessible only via iPhones or iPads -- that use the Google Maps APIs to call wirelessly for location, routing or point-of-interest (POI) data," The Guardian reported. "Further, a source at Google told me the feeling is that those apps were purposefully left out of the new section because they promote Google and its 'superior product' -- at a time when there is so much bad blood between the companies over the continuing smartphone patent litigation (following allegations from the late Steve Jobs that Google's Android OS ripped off iOS).
"In other words, no matter how bad Apple's Maps are, the company still wants its users to move on from Google -- and forget about them," The Guardian said. "This doesn't bode well for the approval of an official Google Maps app, the source says."
Even though Apple has repeatedly rejected apps that use a great deal of location-based data, it wouldn't be surprising if Apple made it especially hard for Google to get its Maps application into the Store. Apple's rocky relationship with Google was reportedly one of the many reasons the company severed its contract with Google a full year before its contract with Google Maps was actually set to expire.
However, it's unlikely a Google Maps app will be embargoed for long, as Apple already lets Google do so much on iOS. Google has countless native apps available through the App Store, including Google, Google Local Search, Google Earth, Google+, Google Drive, Google Chrome, Google Translate, GMail, and more. In time, the search giant could argue that the functions Maps performs are too similar to the apps already accepted in the App Store -- the argument would certainly hold up in court.
Apple may do its best to delay the inevitable, but if Google has any pull in this industry -- and it does -- it will make Google Maps happen on iOS. Google has already invested in making a new Maps app for iOS: On Oct. 16, mobile developer Ben Guild reported on the alpha status of a new vector-based mapping application from Google, calling it "super fast" and supported by the "four-inch height of the iPhone 5." The question isn't if Google Maps on iOS is coming; the question is, which build will iOS be in by the time it's approved?
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.