Google Launches Cross-Platform Search And Directions Sync For Google Maps

Apple is launching iOS 6 today and one of the changes that will likely spark a lot of discussion is the new Maps app that does away with Google Maps and replaces it with Apple’s own (and by most accounts inferior) mapping solution. Google, of course, isn’t sitting still, and as the New York Times reports, Google Maps for Android is set to get an update later today that will bring cross-device syncing of your search and directions history to the app.

Update: Google has now made this announcement official. We’ve updated the post to reflect this.

With this update, Google will start syncing you search and directions history between devices. This means Google Maps on Android will be able to show you search suggestions based on your previous desktop searches, for example. As Google’s VP of Engineering for Maps Brian McClendon told the New York Times, “typing on a phone is slow, and our goal is to reduce the amount of typing as much as possible.”

This, of course, is only a small update, but it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Google announced this new feature today and even gave the New York Times an exclusive that would run in the morning ahead of the iOS 6 launch despite the fact that the feature isn’t even live yet. Apple, after all, can’t offer similar features for its users as it doesn’t offer maps on the desktop. It also took Google years to build its mapping infrastructure and the effort the company puts into curating its maps is staggering.

Apple’s mapping app, on the other hand, is probably the biggest disappointment of iOS 6. Gone are the transit and biking directions of Google Maps. Street View is also nowhere to be found. In return users get very pretty 3D maps (prettier than those in Google Earth) and turn-by-turn directions, but while that’s nice, Apple diminished the overall utility of the default mapping app in iOS 6.

Google will likely launch its own Google Maps app for iOS soon, just like it did with YouTube. It remains to be seen if the company plans to bring all of the features of the Android app, including turn-by-turn directions, to iOS, though.