updated 12:07 pm EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Preview expected at WWDC, release 'later this year'
The Wall Street Journal is backing up reports of Apple transitioning to a Google-less iOS Maps app. The paper cites "current and former Apple employees," who say that the app will arrive later this year. One source says that Apple could preview the new app at WWDC, which begins June 11th. There the company is widely expected to show off iOS 6, with which any version of Maps would have to be deeply integrated.
The WSJ adds that Apple intends to encourage developers to embed its maps inside their own apps. Separate reports have indicated that a main feature of the new Maps will be 3D, using technology acquired from C3 Technologies.
Apple has been gradually drifting away from Google in recent years, mainly over the latter's entry into the smartphone and tablet markets through the Android platform. Apple has in fact sued several Android device makers, and removing Google's Maps presence would leave relatively little trace of the latter party in iOS outside of search and Gmail hooks.