How Apple is breaking free of Google's Maps (and maybe Google, entirely)

What does a Google-free Apple mapping product look like?

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The 3D maps of C3, now part of Apple's mapping plans

Image and thumbnail via 9to5Mac.

 

It’s no secret that Apple and Google have the kind of relationship that touring bands have with Ticketmaster: an aspiring artist with a thinly veiled contempt for the company that has all the right connections. Google is the search engine almost everybody wants as the default in their browser, YouTube is inescapable, Gmail is the email everybody chooses over Apple’s me.com/iCloud offerings, and Maps is the go-to source for directions and nearby listings.

But Apple has been semi-quietly going to great lengths to build its own Maps solution to replace the current Maps, which they designed on top of Google’s data and access. And when I write “great lengths,” I mean buying C3, a company that use recently declassified missile targeting schemes to create three-dimensional renderings, along with database PlaceBase and innovative mapping firm Poly9. The acquisitions didn’t go unnoticed, but there were always slight chances that other apps and features needed location services, and the word from Apple was, as always, nil.

Then Apple launched iPhoto for iPhone, and people noticed that no Google Maps were present. Indeed, the tiles that appeared in the geo-tagging features were customized by Apple, but used data from wiki-style project OpenStreetMap, among other sources. Apple wouldn’t give credit to the project until two months later, but you can see the origins in side-by-side comparisons. Now comes word from 9to5Mac that the next version of Apple’s mobile OS will drop Google Maps entirely and feature “incredible” 3D maps.

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