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Google Maps Pushing Back Into iOS

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First Posted: Feb 22, 2013 05:42 PM EST
A worker explores a Sydney CBD map on an iPhone moments before it goes on sale in a store in Sydney July 10, 2008.

A worker explores a Sydney CBD map on an iPhone moments before it goes on sale in a store in Sydney July 10, 2008. Credit:Reuters

Google is rubbing more salt into the wound that Apple inadvertently inflicted on itself when it tried to surgically remove Google Maps from its phones last year.

On Thursday, Feb. 21 Google updated the Software Development Kit behind its popular Google Maps application for any iOS developer who wants to use it.

The access includes features like gestures and overlays. These features were only available to a select few iOS developers, after the Apple/Google split that shook tech so hard, all of pop culture felt it.

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Last September, when iOS users updated to the new iOS 6, there were a few notable pieces missing, mostly Google apps, like Maps and YouTube.

Apple had replaced the Maps app that had been in place since the iPhone first debuted back in 2007 and was based on the popular, and well- tested, Google Maps Web app. Apple's own app was not nearly as well tested or, as it turned out, popular.

Horror stories spread rapidly about missing locations or directions given with hazardous consequences. Apple Maps was the butt of jokes across the Web and late-night talk shows. It was a disgrace that shamed a company with a solid 15-year track record.

The complaints got so bad that Apple relented three months later and allowed a stand-alone Google Maps app into its App Store. Some tasks Apple Maps can’t even handle, and it is forced to tell you to use Google Maps, such as getting New York subway directions.

Thursday’s SDK update opens that rift further, allowing programmers working on other iOS apps to use Google Maps instead of Apple Maps ... until, possibly, Apple Maps is used by no one, for nothing.

Maybe at that point Apple will admit defeat and allow Google back in. Or maybe Apple has some crazy idea that will turn it all around and save it.

But they’ll probably just refuse to admit there’s a problem.

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