Why did Apple have to ditch Google to add turn-by-turn nav?

At WWDC 2012, Apple “told us about the next generation of iOS Maps, which ditches Google’s API for Apple’s own technologies. The new version of Maps for iOS 6 will indeed include turn-by-turn navigation capabilities, similar to those provided by a dedicated GPS unit or the plethora of other apps that became available in the absence of an Apple-provided solution,” Jacqui Cheng reports for Ars Technica. “The application will be able to speak the directions aloud, too, and reroute based on what is happening in real time. Finally, a modern mapping application! But why did such a feature require Apple to divorce itself from Google before it could be implemented?”

Cheng reports, “The most obvious answer to the question lies in the Google Maps API’s terms of service itself. Google may offer most of its juicy data to developers for their third-party apps (including Apple), but it does place some restrictions on what kind of applications are allowed to be built using Google’s API. And in particular, Google restricts those making apps from its APIs from offering real-time navigation or route guidance in their own apps.”

“It looks like Google’s terms for use of the API clearly restricts companies like Apple from offering turn-by-turn navigation in their apps,” Cheng reports. “But this leaves at least one unanswered question: what if Apple and Google had worked out their own agreement that isn’t necessarily subject to the TOS that are applied to everyone else?”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
In the wake of Apple Maps, Google slashes prices on their maps API – June 23, 2012
With Siri and new alliances, Apple takes on Google search – June 21, 2012
Apple using Waze data in new iOS 6 Maps – June 13, 2012
Apple takes aim at Google with new in-house Maps with amazing Flyover, even smarter Siri – June 12, 2012
Apple goes thermonuclear on Google with new releases – June 11, 2012
Apple posts video of WWDC 2012 Keynote Address – June 11, 2012
Apple shows off iOS 6 with all new Maps, Siri features, Facebook integration, Shared Photo Streams via iCloud, and more – June 11, 2012
Steve Jobs: ‘I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product; I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this’ – October 20, 2011


    1. That’s a secondary reason at best. Surrendering a single, but big, bullet-point advantage to Android (for built-in voice-assisted GPS navigation) is the obvious best reason for ditching Google Maps.

      That said, unless iOS6 Maps has street view and transit schedule info for most major cities around the world, not just those in the US and a select few countries, Apple better not block a separate Google Maps app, if Google decides to write their own.

      1. Transit info for many major cities is restricted because there are private parties who own that data for their own use. This information includes some of the biggest entities in the transit world.

        1. If it’s in the current Google Maps (app or web), the private parties have already agreed to provide it. To Google.

          They might not want to provide it to Apple. But that’s the whole point, if Apple can’t get the same level of info and features into iOS6 Maps that we users already have with Google Maps, they should not block a Google-submitted Maps app. If that means more revenue for Google then that means the iOS6 Maps isn’t cutting it yet and they either need to improve it (get transit authorities on board), or admit they can’t provide everything Google does (e.g. Street View).

          1. Local information for community’s transit routes, Bike routes ect… have been reported as being included as a 3rd party API and can be linked to the new maps Application, having the new feature will allow current up to date access of information on the fly as a API plugin and can be accessed by a tab in the IOS 6 maps application.

            Having an option like this will be better, you can allow for up to 2 GB of offline storage to be used without a connection and daily current information can be updated on the fly to allow for changes in traffic, Bus scheduling, Detour updates and also new routes without having to wait for a Update from Google that can take months to receive.

            You can bet we will see offerings once IOS 6 is available to enhance and provide better up to date information then we have ever seen.

            So let’s see what the final product offers, Googles worried about it, and that says allot.

      2. I’ve never found street view that useful. The new building view in iOS 6 that actually shows the shape of buildings and how they’re situated next to each other seems far more useful then a blurry street picture of what a building might look like from the street.

        1. I find Street View useful for one specific thing: showing me what my destination looks like, so it’s easier to “lock in” visually as I get close.

          Other than that, it’s an amusing toy.


        2. Not useful when all the buildings in the area are multistory boxes, the view is from 30 degrees above, and you’re at ground level.

          And I doubt building view will be in my area (4th largest city of a G8 country) anytime soon.

          Just found this, not promising as far as transit directions integrated within the iOS6 Maps app itself.


          I mean it’s cool that iOS6 lets you hand off routing functionality to dedicated apps for hiking, biking, walking, and even other driving apps, but our local transit company already has a separate app. And, other than real-time GPS estimates on when your bus will come, it blows compared to the simplicity of transit directions and options in Google Maps.

          It would also be nice if I don’t need to download separate apps for transit directions when visiting different cities. Single and consistent interface. Imagine downloading a separate GPS driving app for every city you visit!

  1. Seems rather obvious, they can use it wherever and whenever they want, and make it available to apps on whatever basis they want. Plus, Google are a competitor – why did they make phones and an OS?

  2. Apple’s need to tie in new functionality dovetailed nicely in their desire to get away from anything (evil) Google related on their hardware. Really is Apple Search all that far away as well? Traitorous Google opened up a can of worms that will ultimately bite them in the ass. I still don’t understand why Eric Schmidt can’t be sued personally for stealing Apple ideas while on Apples board.

    1. I think search is too far down the rabbit trail for Apple. As long as there’s other search options, Apple doesn’t need to invest that kind of scratch – and take on the seedy information-stealing tarnish that Google wears as a badge of honor – to successfully squash a competitive advantage of Google’s maps. Maps and TBT is discrete enough for Apple to offer something good-looking and functional and at the same time eliminate a Google presence from their platform.

  3. I love Ars, but I have to wonder about Jacqui sometimes.

    Google crossed Apple by stealing to make Android. Apple pulled maps because Google made it. With maps, Apple pulled all of Google’s access to the content that was linked to maps – and to the businesses who pay Google to advertise their wares in the linked results.

    The turn-by-turn feature is designed to be competitive with stock Android’s offering. TBT is something featured prominently in Android advertising, and it was one of the (very) few competitive advantage the platform had over iOS.

    It’s really that simple.

    1. You really need to do your homework. turn by turn was one of the license restrictions by google from the get go.

      They knew they would be releasing Android from day one.

      1. You really need to see the bigger picture, which is pretty clear to anyone with a shred of familiarity about this topic.

        Who is “they” and when is “day one”? Your comment bewildering.

        1. Seems obvious that “They” in that sentence is referring to Google. And “Day one” likely means from the first day they (Google) brought up the idea of competing with Apple’s mobile products.

          1. Somehow, I don’t think the “idea of competing with Apple’s mobile products” was brought up to Apple. And how is when Apple knew about Android relevant to anything? That Apple should have done something sooner?

  4. Apple used Google initially for Maps because it was the best option at the time the iPhone was developed. Apple realized quickly that it was paying Google a lot of money for Google’s data, and also Jobs was pissed at Google, so what better way to hurt Google than to take millions of map searches away? Plus, Apple wants to control what features it’s apps offer, and it was clearly restricted from doing so with Google.

  5. I’d assume Google Maps will become a seperate app as google will try to hold on for life to iPhone users… and with Apple making its own maps with turn by turn.. it wouldn’t surprise me if in a desperate move they change their TOS to allow all the same features android phones have to iPhone…. Assuming they were smart they would do this sooner than later to try to make Apples maps not gain any traction.

  6. With Maps and Siri, Apple seems to be incorporating services that are much more difficult to copy than the features (such as slide-to-unlock) that it has heretofore relied upon to maintain its lead over competitors.

    Rumors of liquid metal and haptic technology suggest this is the company’s new direction.

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