Apple to Step Up Rivalry With Google With Its Own Maps App

It has been widely speculated that Apple will launch an all-new Maps app in iOS 6 at WWDC next week.

Wall Street Journal has also confirmed that Apple is indeed planning to replace the Maps app that currently uses Google’s mapping data with its own solution later this year. WSJ has a good track record when it comes to Apple related rumors

WSJ reports:

Later this year, Apple is planning to oust Google Maps as the preloaded, default maps app from the iPhone and iPad and release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology, according to current and former Apple employees. Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, one person familiar with the plans says. Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services. 

WSJ reports that Apple’s decision to launch its own Maps app has a lot to do with Google’s refusal to initially include Street View in the maps app and later refusing to add turn-by-turn navigation feature.

Google’s free Maps Navigation app for Android is considered as one of the unique selling points of Android-based smartphones, so Google’s reluctance to add features to the iOS Maps app to protect its interest isn’t very surprising. However, due to this shortsighted approach, Google is now in danger of losing the ad revenues it generates from iOS Maps app, which is a significant portion of Google’s mobile ad revenues. Apple is also likely to update the SDK to ensure that third-party developers start using their mapping solution instead of Google’s mapping data.

WSJ reports that Apple has been quietly adding features to iOS to compete with Google’s Maps app in the future. According to WSJ, Apple released its own geocoder in iOS 5 last fall.

Apple quietly launched its geocoder last fall inside its latest iPhone software. It has remained all but unnoticed outside a small circle of software pros.

Since Apple released its own geocoder, every time iPhone users open its map app, it is Apple’s technology that translates their position, not Google’s. Software developers can also use a version of the Apple technology, CLGeocoder, to build apps that let users, for instance, tell their friends what neighborhood they are in or search for nearby eateries. 

WSJ also reports that Apple is looking to integrate the Maps app with other pre-installed iOS apps to enhance the functionality of these apps.

For instance, 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. 

It remains to be seen if Apple will offer features such as Street View, voice navigation etc in its Maps app. And even if Apple replaces Google’s map with its own solution, all is not lost for Google, as it could still release the Maps Navigation app in the App Store.

Interestingly, Google has schedule a 3D Maps event on Thursday, June 6th ahead of next week’s WWDC. We won’t be surprised if they announce the launch of Google Maps Navigation app for iPhone.

We’ve been eagerly waiting for the day when Google and Apple take their rivalry to Maps app. It looks like that day is coming soon.