Google is said to have distributed an external test version of its native maps app for iOS, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Citing “a person with direct knowledge of the matter,” the WSJ says that Google is readying the app for submission to the App Store review and approval process, though there’s no clear timeline for when that will take place.
There have been rumors that Google was readying a native maps app for distribution via the App Store since it was revealed that Apple would be going with its own maps product as the built-in option in iOS 6, though Google CEO Eric Schmidt denied that one was already pending Apple’s approval. WE later heard that Google Maps was indeed in development, and that Google had hoped to have it submitted to Apple by December, a timeline which would fit with the search giant initiating a limited external beta at this stage.
Of course, the decision to switch away from Google’s Maps offering caused significant user backlash, eventually prompting Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue an apology posted to Apple’s website. iOS software lead Scott Forstall reportedly refused to sign his name to the apology, which is one of a number of factors that supposedly led to his eventual ouster from Apple and its executive team.
The WSJ report says that Eddy Cue is going hands-on with the Maps team to help fix its issues, having replaced Forstall as leadership for the Apple engineers responsible for that product. He’s said to regularly attend and participate in meetings to help improve Maps, according to “a person familiar with the matter.”
Google’s app will feature turn-by-turn directions, the report adds, which would be a significant competitive advantage for Google’s product against other options on the App Store, including the forthcoming Nokia Here maps app, which doesn’t feature driving directions. Google had left turn-by-turn out of Apple’s version of its maps app in the past, reportedly due to disagreements over what Google would get in return for providing that and other features found in its own version of maps for Android.
This also backs up a report from last week from the Guardian which said Google would be aiming for a year-end delivery of Maps for iOS, but was unsure whether Apple would approve it. We’ve played this game before, with Google Voice for iOS, let’s just hope we don’t have the same kind of wait for Google Maps.