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While the furor around the quality of Apple’s Maps(s AAPL) app has died down somewhat since CEO Tim Cook apologized for its inadequacy, the question of whether there’s a Google Maps(s GOOG) app for iOS waiting in the wings remains. On Monday the Guardian reported that several anonymous sources at Google “are not optimistic,” for a variety of reasons, that Apple will approve such an app. That attitude is in direct contrast with Eric Schmidt’s, who is Google’s chairman and has plenty of contacts at Apple as a former board member.
A Google source told the Guardian that, based on several moves Apple has made regarding maps, the “company still wants its users to move on from Google – and forget about them” and that this “doesn’t bode well for the approval of an official Google Maps app.” The app is not ready yet, but will be by the end of the year, according to the report.
Cited as evidence for the lack of optimism within Google is the assumption that Apple wants to “save face” and have customers “move on” from Google Maps completely. And also that in the iOS App Store section that recommends mapping apps, none of the suggested apps use Google data.
It’s certainly possible that Apple will not approve or drag out the approval of a Google Maps app. After all, Apple has not historically just agreed to distribute any Google-branded app. But it’s not very probable.
There’s a lot of attention being paid to how Apple handles the Google relationship, especially after ditching the YouTube and Google Maps apps that the two companies had partnered on for the past five years for iOS. Apple knows it will be under careful scrutiny and likely wants to avoid coming off as anti-competitive again. And anyway, Apple has recommended a maps app with Google data — Google Maps itself. In his apology to users, Cook recommended a variety of mapping apps to use, including “Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”
Apple has approved plenty of Google apps for sale through the App Store, including very recently: a replacement YouTube app for iOS that Google created in September.
And perhaps most importantly, Google’s own chairman is very confident Google’s Maps app for iOS will be approved. Last month at an event in New York City, he noted that Apple and Google talk all the time. And if Google were to build a Maps app for iOS, he added, “I don’t want to preannounce products, but I can tell you that were we to do that, Apple would have to approve it.”