As many had anticipated, Apple announced at this week's Worldwide Developer Conference that it would ditch Google Maps as its primary mapping software for mobile devices. When Apple's in-house map software debuts with iOS 6 this fall, it will be compatible with Siri and sport new 3D features. It will also offer turn-by-turn driving directions and highlight real-time traffic congestion, not to mention that Apple is partnering with Yelp to offer local information about more than 100 million businesses worldwide. (Read more about the changes here.) Several automakers, including BMW, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota have even signed up for a new program that will integrate a Siri button on car steering wheels and make use of Apple's new map system. With all these innovations, will Google Maps be relegated to a thing of the past?
This hits Google hard: The move is a "major blow" for Google, "which stands to lose mobile advertising revenue and valuable insights about people's whereabouts," says Michael Liedtke and Peter Svensson at The Associated Press. Now if users want to get to Google Maps, they'll have to find and install the app themselves. But Google destroyed its relationship with Apple when it decided to go toe-to-toe with the iPhone by releasing Android in 2008, famously causing Steve Jobs to declare "thermonuclear war" against the search giant. Consider this severance a slap in the face.
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Apple's service is missing a vital Google Maps offering: Sure, Apple Maps will offer driving directions, says Emily Price at Mashable, but it "will take away one feature many city dwellers have come to know and love: public transportation directions." When it rolls out, Apple's new Maps won't have mass transit directions built into it at all. The reason is likely that most cities record public transportation data using Google software. "Apple may be reluctant to use Google's data in the app it's using to break away from Google." For people who don't drive, it's an incentive to keep Google Maps around.
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The real loser is the portable GPS industry: "If it wasn't obvious before, it's crystal clear today," says Damon Lavrinc at Wired: The portable GPS is dead, and Apple and Google are the "pallbearers." Consumer electronics move too fast for the slow development cycle of the automotive industry, and hardware companies like Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom will find themselves quickly dated while the Map app wars heat up. Now, "with photo integration, 3D vector-based graphics, multi-touch control, and Apple's own hyper detailed satellite imagery, it's hard for any iOS user to justify keeping a chunky piece of perpetually outdated hardware suction-cupped to the windshield."
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