Eric Schmidt shoots down rumours a Google Maps app was waiting for approval
A report on Reuters has confirmed that Google has not submitted a Maps app to Apple, contradicting rumours that Google Maps for iOS was potentially imminent and also that Apple might be blocking it. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters in Tokyo that the company had "not done anything yet" regarding a Google Maps app, unlike with YouTube, which had a third-party release in early September.
Schmidt added that he thought it would have been better if Apple had kept Google Maps, but did not provide insight into why the deal between the two companies, which had been in place since the original iPhone, was not renewed. Meanwhile, Apple's mapping implementation has, at best, proven divisive. Anil Dash wrote that "it's evident that fundamental mapping features like venue search and directions are significantly worse than in the Google versions", and pointed at the Apple solution's general lack of intelligence regarding assumptions in search, along with the lack of transit information.
However, Kontra was willing to cut Apple a little slack, pointing out that Google Maps also has shortcomings (such as providing walking directions from Alicante to Valencia that go by way of the island of Ibiza) and wondering whether Apple's hand was forced through onerous terms or the holding back of Google Maps features. Anthony Drendel added that in some circumstances, Apple's solution is actually an improvement, such as outside of major cities in China. Ex-Apple tech guru Jean-Louis Gassée wondered whether the main problem was in Apple not dialling back the hyperbole when announcing Maps: "Pointing out the limitations of your product is a sign of strength, not weakness. I can't fathom why Apple execs keep ignoring this simple prescription for a healthy relationship with their customers. Instead, we get tiresome boasting."
Many existing users will agree, and any positives of the new Maps won't be of much solace to users whose country's satellite views now resemble a close-up of a wall in a 1990s PC shoot 'em up, or whose surroundings are littered with companies that shut down a decade ago. But given the harsh (and largely fair) backlash Apple has received – and the ridicule Maps is suffering in the press and through gleeful advertising by Android hardware manufacturers – it's likely Apple will respond rapidly. After all, Schmidt effectively stated that Google won't be plugging the gap any time soon, although, interestingly, TechCrunch reckons ex-Google Maps engineers might.