Google has distributed a test version of its new mapping app that will work on Apple’s iPhones to some individuals outside the company, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Google has been putting the finishing touches on the app before submitting it for approval to the Apple iTunes store, this person said, though it’s unclear exactly when that will happen.
If Google’s new mapping app is accepted into the iTunes store, it will directly compete against Apple’s new mapping software that is pre-installed on its mobile devices.
An Apple spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on apps that haven’t been submitted for approval. Apple has recently approved some new or updated Google apps.
In mid-September, Apple released its latest iPhone and iPad software called iOS 6 that automatically replaced a Google Maps app that was pre-installed on its mobile devices with Apple’s own mapping software.
But Apple’s move to boot Google Maps backfired, as numerous consumers complained Apple’s version was riddled with inaccurate data. The controversy prompted a public apology from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook. IPhone software chief Scott Forstall refused to apologize publicly for the embarrassment. The incident exacerbated longstanding tension between him and other Apple managers, contributing to Mr. Cook’s decision to push him out of the company last month.
The forthcoming Google Maps app for the iPhone is expected to contain turn-by-turn navigation that would allow people to use it like a GPS device while driving, said the person familiar with the matter. The turn-by-turn navigation feature didn’t exist in the previous Apple-device version, partly because of various disagreements between the companies over other aspects of the Apple-controlled app.