updated 11:40 am EDT, Fri March 25, 2011
Find My Friends, Maps Navigation could be on tap
Apple has opened a new job posting which suggests a major overhaul of the Maps app in iOS, as well as the platform's general location technology. The position is simply identified as iOS Maps Application Developer, but asks for someone to help "radically improve how people interact with maps and location-based services." Candidates must have a BS in Computer Science or an equivalent, and be familiar with object-oriented programming and design, particularly in terms of apps and user interfaces.
At a minimum the job description hints that Apple wants to make more changes to Maps, which despite its importance has remained relatively static since its inception, mostly gaining things like Street View and a native iPad interface. The company could however be planning to give the app a major overhaul, for instance finally implementing Maps Navigation, which has long been promised for iOS by Google but remains an advantage of Android smartphones. Apple would likely introduce any Maps changes with iOS 5, which is expected this summer in parallel with a new iPhone.
iOS 5 may also bring a Find My Friends feature similar to Google Latitude. Apple could conceivably choose to jettison Google entirely and use its acquisition of Placebase to develop its own mapping backend. Such a shift would require a massive effort though, one which might not be worth it despite animosity between Apple and Google.