Apple’s decision to switch from Google Maps to its own homegrown mapping service in iOS 6 is a significant change not just for iOS, but for Apple. It’s rare for the company to suddenly move away from something that’s working purely for the sake of change. Google Maps is a fine product (even if the iOS version lacked some of the Android version’s bells and whistles) and one that millions of Apple customers are familiar with. Yet Apple apparently wants to move as far away from the clutches of Google as it can, and replacing Google’s perfectly functional Maps app sends a strong message to that effect.
There will definitely be noticeable differences for users — see the concern over replacing integrated transit directions with recommended third-party transit apps. But developers say Apple has made it pretty easy on them.
I reached out to a few iOS app makers that rely on Google Maps and asked how the change would affect them. An iPhone developer at Foodspotting, Matt Jarjoura, said that the maps app would change within their own app without he or his team having to rewrite “any code at all.”
Sam Shank, CEO of Hotel Tonight, agreed that it would be a simple switch. He described it this way: “[F]rom a coding perspective, the new maps are ‘free’ – meaning that with iOS 6, the maps will automatically switch over to using the Apple maps. This is great news for us and app developers, and is consistent with Apple making life simple for app developers.”
Sasank Reddy, CEO of Kullect, reiterated the same expectation: ”We don’t have to do anything,” he said. Which, he added, is “pretty awesome.”
Of course, there will be other changes iOS developers will have to navigate besides maps, many of which will be revealed in sessions at WWDC throughout this week.