According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Google is in the final stages of development with their Maps app for Apple’s iOS. Testing at this point has moved beyond just the folks in Mountain View, with a “select” few testing the app outside of Google’s walls. As of right now, the WSJ could not provide a specific date for when we’d see Google’s Maps app sent to Apple for approval, but with development this far along, we’d expect to see them send it in before the end of 2012—assuming the Mayans were wrong.
With Apple removing Google’s Maps from iOS 6 in favor of their own Mapping application—which has been seen as a public failure and resulted in the firing of iOS head Scott Forstall—it will be interesting to see how long it takes Apple to approve Google’s app, if at all. If Apple chooses to deny Google’s app, simply on principal, it could cause a backlash not only from customers, but from Google. There are already other map apps on iOS and with Nokia soon offering their own mapping service called “Here” which will also feature offline maps and turn-by-turn navigation, it would be difficult for Apple to turn down Google as it may be seen as anti-competitive by certain law makers.
If and when Google’s Maps actually do make it to iOS, it will feature several of the features that have made the app a standard on Android, like offline maps and turn-by-turn navigation, but also Street View and transit directions, two features which iOS users have been missing since Apple replaced Google’s service. Needless to say, Apple is between a rock and hard place. They definitely want their own in-house mapping service to be the premier maps app on iOS, so by allowing Google’s, it could essentially cut their app’s momentum and growth off at the knees, rendering it useless. On the flip side, if they don’t approve it, it could come back and bite them in the ass and cause a possible lawsuit.
This is one of those decisions that falls squarely on the CEO and I for one wouldn’t want to be in Tim Cook’s shoes.