Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
December 14, 2012

Google Maps vs. Apple Maps – The API Round


For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Google made a big splash this week with the release of its much-anticipated Google Maps for iPhone.  The wait is finally over and we can all move on from our complaining about the lack of public transportation directions and the inaccuracies of Apple Maps to figuring out which app we like best.  I won’t try to do a side-by-side comparison of the two apps – many, more qualified people have done this already (this is a pretty insightful and comprehensive review).  What I do want to talk about is something that will not affect the average user directly. 

Along with its Maps, Google released an API to enable developers to integrate Google Maps into their apps.  Like I said, most users won’t notice this…until Google Maps start popping up in your new favorite location app. Of course Apple Maps is still the go to mapping app on iPhone – it will remain the default-mapping app for iPhone (think of when you get an email with an address – when you click on that on your iPhone, it will always go to Apple Maps).  And yes, Apple has an iOS SDK that helps app developers integrate iOS features into their apps (including Apple Maps), but it provides a whole lot of other features as well, that not all developers will need. 

With an API, Google Maps is enabling app developers to create apps that will use its mapping technology over Apple’s.  If Google proves to be very popular with users and developers, it could over take Apple Maps in terms of proliferation.  Through its API, Google Maps could become the more frequently used mapping app on Apple’s own devices.  All thanks to its API.  That’s pretty powerful stuff.