Apple’s already started the process of replacing Google Maps

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Google Maps' days of being the default map in iOS are numbered. 9to5Mac reported a few weeks ago that Apple was planning to replace Google Maps with its own homegrown mapping solution, and late Monday The Wall Street Journal reported that the change would be coming “later this year,” according to their sources who are current and former Apple employees.

Apple bought a trio of companies with mapping technology expertise a few year ago — Placebase, C3 Technologies and Poly9. 9to5Mac reported that we’d see the results, which include a 3D mapping feature, unveiled at WWDC next week, presumably so developers in attendance can start working with it. While the Journal’s report says “Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services,” its report only says that Apple “may” preview the new maps app at the event.

We know there’s not a lot of love lost between Apple and Google these days. And the Journal has some great details about how we got from 2007, when then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt shared the stage with Steve Jobs to talk about Google Maps and Google Search on the iPhone — with Schmidt joking about combining the two companies and calling it “Applegoo” — to today, where Apple has spent millions of dollars to replace Google’s technology, not only in maps, but in search too, with the introduction of Siri.

Here are the best bits from the WSJ story about Apple and Google fell out over the maps app:

  • It hasn’t been a happy partnership: Apple and Google have argued over everything from Google “aggressively gathering data” from iPhone Google Maps users, to Apple’s insistence on controlling the look of the app, Apple refusing to allow Google Latitude on the iPhone and Google keeping its Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation exclusive to Android phones.
  • As a result, Apple has been “hatching the plan to evict Google Maps from the iPhone for years.”
  • It replaced Google’s geocoder — which¬†turns a point of longitude and latitude into an address or location¬†— with its own in-house geocoder in iOS last fall and almost nobody noticed.
  • Everyone uses Google Maps: Android users and reportedly 90 percent of Apple’s own iPhone customers. So Apple wants to evict Google’s Maps so that its own phones can be differentiated from the hundreds of Android smartphones out there with the same mapping app.
  • An example of how Apple wants to integrate its maps into iOS: “if Apple’s iCalendar program knows that a person has a meeting across town soon, and traffic is backing up, it might alert the person about road conditions.”
  • Apple has already paid for licenses for road and traffic conditions data and local businesses information.

Considering how Apple likes to do business — by owning and controlling the technologies it uses — it’s no surprise Apple has been counting the moments until it can stop paying its rival-in-chief for use of its mapping technology. So now the question is not about how or if Apple will do its own maps, but how good are they going to be?

Though mapping data isn’t the sexiest or most exciting thing in tech, these next few days should be full of mobile mapping drama. On Wednesday Google has preemptively scheduled an event to show off the “next dimension of maps,” and on Monday Apple will have the tech world’s attention for WWDC’s opening keynote, and it’s hard to see Tim Cook and company passing up the opportunity to show off its mobile map plans then.

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