Apple looks prepared to sever its long-standing ties to Google Maps with a brand new mapping application in the next version of iOS.
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Apple is planning a major shake-up of the navigation app found on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The iPhone-maker is going to completely cut Google Maps from its platform and will instead rely on its own mapping data, according to sources cited by 9to5mac.
Google has provided the back-end data to Google Maps on the iPhone since it was first introduced in 2007. During the last several years, Apple has purchased a handful of mapping companies, including Poly9, C3 Technologies, and Placebase. C3 Technologies, in particular, is noteworthy thanks to its 3-D mapping technology.
According to 9to5mac, the new Maps app for iOS will be a complete re-write of the code, though the overall look and feel of the app will remain similar. Apple will even revise the app logo by changing the colors to represent that fact that it has been rewritten.
The most compelling feature of the Apple-owned map app will be 3-D street views of buildings and such, which can be reached via controls in the software. This 3-D feature will offset the loss of Google Maps' Street View technology, which provides a street-level look at store fronts, businesses, and points of interest along map routes.
As it stands, Google Maps in iOS is a solid performer and a good app. Why replace it? Clearly, Apple wants to cease relying on Google for what it considers to be one of the core apps of iOS. Apple has been slowly drifting away from Google over the years as they compete head-to-head in the smartphone and tablet space.
Whether or not Google will continue to provide a mapping application to iOS devices is anyone's guess. Without a guaranteed place on the iPhone and iPad, it may not bother.
A similar change is taking place in the Windows Phone world, though for different reasons. Initially, Windows Phone 7 relied on Bing Maps to provide location services. Now that Nokia has adopted Windows Phone, the entire Windows Phone ecosystem is shifting to Nokia Maps (which are based on Navteq's mapping data). Nokia places a high priority on providing the best possible selection of mapping and navigation apps.
The new Apple-made mapping application will likely be previewed at the upcoming WorldWide Developers Conference that Apple is holding in June. WWDC has been the launch platform for several new versions of iOS, and you can bet that Apple will take the opportunity this year to show off its latest software efforts.
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