One of my favorite apps in the original iPhone was the Maps app powered by Google Maps. But those were the days when Apple and Google got along well, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman, was even on Apple’s Board.
However, after the introduction of Android in 2007, the relationship between Apple and Google has gone downhill, and they have now become bitter rivals. So it wasn’t a major surprise that Apple replaced the Google Maps-powered app with its own Maps app. I don’t solely blame Apple for that decision, Google’s decision not to bring its voice-based navigation feature to the iPhone because it thought it could use it as a key differentiator for Android, eventually forced Apple to replace Google Maps with its own Maps app in 2011. And we all know how it turned out. In the end, it was the iPhone customers that suffered. It doesn’t seem to matter to Apple as it continues to sell a record-breaking number of iPhones despite Apple Maps not being the best Maps app for the iPhone.
Google realized its mistake and launched a standalone Google Maps app for iPhone in 2012, which quickly became the most popular Maps app on the App Store. But we still continue to suffer, as Apple still doesn’t give us a way to set our default app for maps, or for that matter even for mail, calendar and web browser. The news that Google was planning to launch Google Assistant for iPhone, which is far better than Siri, was another reminder of this frustrating limitation.
Unfortunately, unlike Microsoft who got into trouble for bundlings its own apps with Windows, Apple is unlikely to be forced to give us a choice to select our preferred app, as Apple doesn’t have a monopoly in the smartphone market like Microsoft had on the PC market.
But I hope that Apple decides that customers come first, before rivalry or strategic value, and gives us the option to change the default app for maps, mail, calendar, browser etc. in iOS 11. With every new impending iOS announcement, I am pretty sure most power users hope for this functionality. But I am not too optimistic about Apple including this feature this year as well. Though I hope it does, so that when I am desperately looking for directions, I can ask Siri to give me directions, and it can direct it to Google Maps which is a lot more reliable.
If given a choice to set my default apps, I would continue using Safari, but I will promptly use Fantastical as the default app for Calendar, Google Maps for maps and maybe consider a third-party app for mail.
It would also eliminate one of the top reasons people like to jailbreak their iPhones and iPads so that they have the freedom to choose which apps to use.
What do you think? Would you change the default app for maps, mail, calendar, and web browser? Let me know in the comments.
Check out the other features in our iOS 11 Wishlist: