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Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 4:20pm
Apple/Google mapping split based on turn-by-turn issues
The split between Apple and Google over iOS 6's Maps app can be traced back to a dispute over voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, say sources for AllThingsD. While turn-by-turn has long been core to the Android version of Maps, the feature was missing from iOS until this month, in part because it wasn't included with the deal that originally brought Google Maps to the iPhone. Apple is said to have wanted the feature very badly, and pushed Google to supply data.

Google allegedly resisted, on the basis that it had spent tremendous amounts of money on turn-by-turn data, and that the technology was a selling point for Android. In exchange it asked for things like more control over the iOS Maps feature set, in-app branding, and/or adding Google Latitude, none of which Apple was willing to concede. Eventually the demands created "major points of contention" between the two companies, according to ATD, exacerbating other conflicts over questions like how much user information Google was collecting from iOS Maps.

"There were a number of issues inflaming negotiations, but voice navigation was the biggest," says once source claimed to be familiar with the talks. "Ultimately, it was a deal-breaker."

By that point Apple had already been buying up mapping companies, and decided to accelerate the creation of its own app with the intent of making it a main feature in iOS 6. When Apple realized it would indeed be able to get the tech into 6, it jettisoned Google, even with a massive amount of time left on a Google Maps contract.

Now, though, the company may be regretting its decision, remarks a source said to have been briefed on Apple's strategy. "Apple knew it had a lot of catching up to do in maps. But given what’s happened the past few days, I think they felt they were farther along than they actually are," the person comments. Users of iOS 6 Maps have been complaining about inaccuracies, missing features, and graphics glitches.

As much as Apple has suffered bad publicity though, Google has lost a significant userbase. Over 100 million people have already upgraded iOS devices to iOS 6, cutting Google off from their data, and reducing the market for advertisers.