Google has issued a test version of its Maps app that will work on Apple iOS 6 devices such as the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. Don’t get too excited yet, though. This is understood to be a closed test build of the software issued to a select few people, a few of whom are not Google employees.
A wider test of this kind suggests that an updated version of Google Maps is getting its finishing touches before being submitted for approval in the Apple iTunes store.
Its features are expected to include free sat-nav style turn-by-turn directions, a function that was was missing from the earlier iOS edition.
The Wall Street Journal reported that that a test version of Maps for iOS 6 had been distributed by Google “to some individuals outside the company”. The paper says its source is “a person with direct knowledge of the matter.” However, it is not clear how soon it will be until the app is finally ready.
A return of Google Maps on the latest version of iOS would put it in direct competition with Apple’s own recently launched but heavily criticised Maps app, which replaced the Google-based offering as a stock piece of software within the operating system.
The new Google Maps for iOS may function more like the Android version shown here
A Google spokesperson told the WSJ, "We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."
Apple’s own Maps software is due for a series of fixes and is now under the control of Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP for Internet software and services.
Both Apple and Google’s maps services will be facing increasing competition from the likes of Bing and Mapquest, which have iOS navigation software on the iTunes App Store and were endorsed by Apple CEO Tim Cook in his apology to customers about the poorly implemented launch of Apple’s Maps.
They may soon be joined by Nokia, which is working on a native iOS version of its Here mapping app. Meanwhile, iPhone/iPad users will be hoping for Apple to fast-track Google Maps through the App Store approvals process, which has been known to take months in some cases. It would earn Apple a bit of good PR in return.