Ditching Google Maps not a problem for iOS developers


Apple’s new Maps app demonstrated at WWDC 2012.

Apple’s decision to switch from Google Maps(s GOOG) to its own homegrown mapping service in iOS 6 is a significant change not just for iOS, but for Apple(s AAPL). 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.



Well Is not free for everyone. My app is using tiles stored in device for offline browsing. With google was easy to do, but with apple there is no way to extract the tiles and store them in the device. Offline apps like travel guides that using google and not open street maps, are dead.


Unless you rewrite that part of your app and continue using Google Maps. How does iOS force you to stop? You’re just stuck rewriting portions of the old API. ;)

But pre-iOS 6 iOS devices will still use Google? I can’t tell from these stories. If so, can’t you simply target a different iOS version, or does Apple force the “upgrade” on iOS 6?


Apple dropping Google Maps and deploying a new mapping product in iO6 is great news to IOS users: it will urge Google to develop a decent Google maps app for iOS to prevent losing half of its userbase. Thus iOS users will gain best of both world.


Apple dropping Google Maps and deploying a new mapping product in iO6 is great news to Android and Google: will be a migration of users from Apple devices to Android after users realize how much they miss superior Google Maps and Street View (the web version of Google Maps will be too awkward to use on small screen)


iCal this claim chowder. Apple customers will drop Google mapping data and never look back just to eliminate privacy questions. Google privacy issues have greatly damage the brand.


Interesting that you think it’s the Google Maps data which drives people to iOS. The best part is, regardless of which platform users are on, we now know from the Oracle v Google trial that Google still doesn’t make any money on it.


Apple could use a picture of a dog turd and call it a map and everyone would be thrilled. The Apple religion. LOL

Steve K

What is the value of this comment? Well written system calls that can be easily substituted for something else (or even be transparent in this case) are the mark of a clean operating system. Having to patch a ton of different APIs together to get something to appear to be working is what drives developers nuts. One of the foundations of the “Apple religion” as you call it is the “It just works” culture that has been there from the beginning. The first Mac system resources were carefully mapped out and published. Application developers were expected to follow the rules, and when they did everything worked as one would expect. Microsoft blew that out of the water with Excel but I give Apple points for trying. They still have a tighter ecosystem that most people can use without needing to be a super geek with a buttload of if you do this, this and this, you can get that, work arounds.

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