back to article Google fine-tuning iOS mapping app for Apple submission

Google is reportedly putting the finishing touches on an iOS app that might replace the Chocolate Factory code that Apple so unceremoniously dropped with its iOS 6 operating system. According to the Wall Street Journal sources with direct knowledge of the code say that the first builds of the completed application have been …

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This is so funny

When Apple was paying Google a ton of cash, Google could not be bothered to update the Map App to the equal of the Android App, rather preferring to push the point the Apple products were inferior to the Android product due to the lack basic features like turn by turn directions. Now that Apple has called their bluff, Google is all of the sudden desperate to give the App away.

I guess the user data is what it is all about.

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Ads

I've seen reports elsewhere that this app is supposed to be heavily laden with ads. Answers both your questions about "why didn't they do this before?" (contract with Apple probably limited advertising) and why they're all of a sudden desperate to give it away ($$$)

I don't personally have any issues with the "crap map app" - I guess it's a function of where you live and travel. I think I'll wait to see what Nokia's app looks like as from all accounts Nokia's mapping is superior to Google's.

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Re: This is so funny

"Google could not be bothered to update the Map App "

Are you sure that's how it worked or is it a theory? I've heard people say it wasn't down to Google - Apple were in control but I have no definite information.

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Re: This is so funny

It's very simple. Google started charging volume users for access to their mapping data. Indeed they started of at a level that lead to fullscale revolt by most if their users and have since massively revised the prices downwards. The Google -> Apple supply deal contract was up for renewal. Clearly Apple didn't feel they needed to help Google's bottom line. This much is clear and known (or at least for the last point, obvious). What is not known is if there was negotiation what happened during the proceedings. Were Apple minded to stay using Google if they would supply the data at no charge? Did Google want a fee? Did Google offer to keep supplying the data for free but without turn-by-turn. Were Google refusing to allow Apple access to the vector data API's implemented on Android phones (and more efficient) ? Nobody knows other than Google and Apple. Personally - and this is pure conjecture - I suspect the process was pretty close to this:

Apple: "We want a guarantee of supply of turn-by-turn and access to the vector data API, or we will take our user base and create a competitive product"

Google: "You want everything for free and with no ads. Why should you get that for free ?"

Apple: "Because you want the ancillary links to your service from emails, messages etc. you continue to be the centre point for mapping, and can show ads i all other contexts that us relevant. You can't afford to lose our user base and don't want us as a competitor"

Google: "Yes we do want to retain your user base because of course we want our service used by all, but not that much and we have Android so aren't so concerned to retain your user base as we once were. It's only fair we make money off of this."

Apple: "So...<silence>"

Google: "So...<silence>"

... the rest is what we do know.

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Big Brother

Re: This is so funny

"preferring to push the point the Apple products were inferior to the Android product" - what's changed? If Apple allow this, it makes it even more obvious since the users will all avoid the onboard iOS maps.

"Siri, run a shit mapping app please" - up pops iOs maps.

"Siri, run a quality mapping app please" - up pops Google Maps.

Simples.

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Re: This is so funny

From what I have read, Apple could have continued to use the google bundled apps for another year under the current agreement anyway, but they cut their nose off to spite google's face.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is so funny

You sir have been sucked into Apple's versions of events.

The reality is, is was always updated, but Apple prevented Google adding Turn-By-Turn and vector maps (that Android users had).

This is SO funny, as all roads lead to Lose for Apple.

If they reject it, Apple owners will hate them

If they accept it, it's red faces at Apple.

Even if they accept it, it still won't be the OS mapping solution, so all apps that use maps will be using the shit ones.

It's a public disaster for Apple that's going to take YEARS to correct. (unless of course they put the Google mapping solution back as the OS default, which 'aint gonna happen).

Which one of them is worst for Apple? They are all equally as bad... But in their blind hate of Google, they were so focused in cutting them out, they forgot about their users needs....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You sir have been sucked into Apple's versions of events.

As usual Barry it's you slanting things to suit your own viewpoint. Apple asked Google to update their maps app with vector graphics and turn-by-turn and Google were quite willing to do it, however they wanted to fully brand the app as Google's (which might have been OK) and they also wanted to make the app phone home with all the user's search and location data from the maps app. Apple balked at this and Google weren't willing to update the app if they couldn't collect user data.

As for whether Apple's maps are crap, it's more like it's going to take years to get over the initial stigma. In just the few weeks it's been available the data has improved massively, as has the satellite imagery. There's still room for improvement but it's perfectly usable.

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Facepalm

Re: You sir have been sucked into Apple's versions of events.

"There's still room for improvement but it's perfectly usable."

http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/post/33227341418/drives-onto-airport-runway

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ads

Nokia's pure mapping solution is on-par with Google, but that's just for road maps. Take what else Google have in addition, namely:

StreetView

Decent public transport mapping

unbeatable POI data with integrated reviews (Zagat and others)

Comprehensive and accurate satellite imagery

Oceanography

Indoor mapping

Off-road mapping

And Nokia don't even come close, and Apple aren't even in the same game.

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If Apple was going to jump, better sooner than later

From what I have read, Apple could have continued to use the google bundled apps for another year under the current agreement anyway, but they cut their nose off to spite google's face.

----

What could they have gained by keeping the crappy version of Google's maps on iOS for another year? Google Maps on other platforms would have further improved, while iOS maps would be the same as before. Apple Maps, released in 2013, would be of pretty much the same quality as what was released a couple months ago.

The reason for that is because you need MANY MANY users who are widely distributed to identify the problems so they can be fixed. Just as Google has had to allow them to turn the original Google Maps into what it is today. Google Maps, when introduced, was way worse than Apple Maps was when introduced, at least where I live, so even though Mapquest's interface was horrible, the data was better so I sometimes had to turn to it when Google Maps proved inadequate. Over a few years that happened less and less often, to the point that I haven't used Mapquest in years, and couldn't even tell you if it still exists.

Think of this way - If I looked at maps of Belgrade, and it was full of problems, I wouldn't have any idea about misnamed streets, misplaced landmarks, etc. because I've never been there. If I went there and couldn't find what I was looking for, then I might realize something is wrong. If maps of my hometown had similar problems, I will know right away just from looking at it. Short of duplicated locations (which is inevitable when you combine data sources) Apple engineers couldn't identify and fix most of the issues because no matter how many they hire there could never be enough of them to be familiar with everywhere in the world.

You HAVE to put it out for the public to use to truly make it better, but the longer you wait the worse you look compared to the competition. Apple's problem wasn't that they did this in 2012 when they could have in 2013. They did this in 2012 when they should have done it in 2009 or 2010. If they had done it in 2009, it would probably be pretty difficult to tell Apple Maps and Google Maps apart for map data quality. Apple's would far better, and Google's would perhaps be slightly worse (i.e. the corrections I and other iOS users have supplied as a result of errors we've run into on the old iOS map app)

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Re: This is so funny

Have you actually used the app or have you used google maps prior to like a year ago? I tested the map app and it is clearly leaps and bounds over google maps's first half of its life. I'm sure it is lacking in some areas but so is google maps so I think people (fandroids no doubt) are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

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Re: This is so funny

The problem with your theory here is that Apple wrote and owned the maps app. Google was only providing the mapping data. It was Apple that was updating the maps app over time and they did want to add Turn by Turn. But when they approached Google for the needed data, Google wanted too much money.

Personally, i think Apple should have paid whatever it took and updated the existing application. Their own rewrite has been a horrible mess. I had a 2003 HP iPaq which ran Mapopolis and had perfect maps and directions and I can't believe Apple released something so horrible with ten years of prior mapping experience out there.

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Re: Ads

Google maps has some advantages, but Nokia is still great for offline maps. Why on earth does Google limit me to just a few small areas? It's also annoying that i can't search the data that's downloaded, so i have to manually search for road names etc.

Plus it doesn't have to be about which is best, as I'd gladly have both installed. Use Google most the time of you prefer, but keep Nokia for roaming or when there's poor data connection.

Agree about apple though. And i found Nokia's satellite imagery fine.

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Meh

Re: Ads

- besides, the Nokia turn-by-turn navigation is unbelievably chatty and less intelligent towards the driver than Googles. I used both upto very recently and as a reasonable driver, the Nokia directions are just a pain in the *ss compared to Googles turn-by-turn solution. Google just takes the user seriously. Nokia not so much.

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Re: This is so funny

Quite foolish of Google I think. As an iPhone user, I can confirm the maps are now good enough where I live to mean I have zero interest in Googles offerings any more.

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Steve Jobs' position would have been...

Steve Jobs' position would have been to never release such a crappy Apple Maps in the first place. Sure, he would still hate Google now, etc etc, but he never would allow the Apple name to appear on the iOS6 maps.

As I understand it, Apple felt they had to have a turn-by-turn navigator, and Google has point-blank refused to provide this. Apple felt boxed in, rightly so. But the decision to move ahead with iOS6 maps was based on arrogance, not clear-thinking.

I worked with the Nokia maps people closely for over 4 years, and I can tell you, maps are very, VERY hard to do well. Google are head-and-shoulders above all the rest, but Nokia is pretty good after 10 years of work (some done prior to the acquisition of the mapping division)

From Google's perspective, they want the end-user info they will get from a mapping app; Apple wants the same, or at least to deny it to Google.

We will see if Google's new map app includes turn-by-turn... If not, then we could wait for 3-4-5 years for Apple to catch up... and then where will Google be?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Steve Jobs' position would have been...

The google map is no holy grail. I doubt it will be any better the present iteration.

What 3 - 4 years to catch up? You are hilarious. The data is from Tom Tom so what is there to catch up unless

their data is crap which makes Apple Maps look bad.

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Mushroom

Re: Steve Jobs' position would have been...

The new Apple Maps App itself is actually very good - better than anything I've seen elsewhere. It's the dataset that let's it down and I've noticed that it is slowly being fixed, even in my local area some of the submissions I have made have been implemented.

None of these mapping datasets are perfect. Google's data is the best but then they've had the luxury of wardriving everybody's streets for the last five years slurping up every bit of private Wi-Fi data they can, so it bloody-well ought to be comprehensive.

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Anonymous Coward

@ messele

But the dataset is what makes or breaks a mapping application!!! A map "app" can be the best app around, but without the maps behind it, what use is it? Besides which, I don't see any functionality in Apple Maps which puts it above Google's Android offering.

And as for Google's dataset, that old chestnut of slurping wifi isn't going to tell them where my local Apple store is - which, by the way, Apple Maps is still laughably unable to do, even if I tell it "Apple Store in Reading". Just put in "Apple Store" and it ignores the 10+ stores closer, and directs me to London.

Usual disclaimer: I'm upset about the new maps, because I just got an iPhone 5, having gone iPhone 2G > 3G > Android > iPhone 5, and as such am pee'd off cos I loved Google Maps on Android

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FAIL

Re: Steve Jobs' position would have been...

LOL, kidding yourself much?

Funniest post of the week... I don't recall seeing Apple streetview cars mapping the world, nor DECENT aeriel imagery, indoor maps, reliable public transport and POI data (which reviews) or any of the other stuff than Apple is missing and will be for many years to come. You cant magic that stuff up...

I'm also guessing you are American and live in a major US city????????

Sure if you look at JUST the road maps, then yes, they are only a couple of years behind Google, but look at the full picture, and they are 7 years or more behind them.....

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FAIL

Eh?

Why the automatic assumption that Apple will automatically block anything that Google roll out?

- Other Google software has been allowed through.

- Other mapping apps have been allowed though.

This click-bait is growing very old. I am sure most of us are using ad-blockers so just give up on speculation. Let's have some facts...when they happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Eh?

History and precedent, mostly

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FAIL

Re: Eh?

One app, Google Voice, an app only available in North America, was rejected. Pretty much every other app Google has published to the store has been published. This isn't conjecture or blind fanboyism, this is actual tangible fact. They currently have around 20 apps in the App Store, one of which is Google Earth...

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FAIL

I just wish they'd do a decent YouTube app for iPad. The current one is rubbish.

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Anonymous Coward

Simplez

Sell the iPad whilst you still can, and pickup a Nexus7 or a Nexus 10, or a Sony, or whatever suits your fancy or meets your requirements

Not only do you get a better device, but you get proper maps, proper you tube, and live in the open world of Android, where you only have to buy your app once for your phone and you get the tablet support for free, and these days 80% of the worthwhile apps use fragments API to deliver separate tablet and phone layouts in a single application.

I know all that above conflicts with what Apple and their media pals told you, but that's the way it is...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simplez

"buy your app once for your phone and you get the tablet support for free"

That's because the tablet version of the app is usually the phone version scaled up.

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Re: Simplez

An ipad is a scaled up phone. Sorry, you don't get to praise apple whilst criticising android for doing the same thing. This isn't like say my 10" Samsung netbook, which really does run a different ui to a phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simplez

Mark your hatred for apple is tiresome especially if you can't even read the comments before commenting.

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Re: Simplez

You've never actually developed for an iPad then, have you?

Apple actively encourages iPad-specific GUIs for that platform. You can build a single app that will use one GUI for iPhones / iPod Touch, and another for the larger iPad displays. They'll often look very different.

I've used both platforms and very few Android applications actually bother to do anything similar: most literally just show a cheesy stretched-out phone UI with terrible use of space and potential. Only a few of the big name developers are actually putting any effort into this aspect, but the ratio of stretched vs. native tablet apps is still terrible when compared to the Apple ecosystem.

There's really no excuse for this. It's just laziness on the part of developers. If they can't be arsed to put a bit of effort in the user interface design, why bother writing the thing at all? You can add all the functionality you like, but if it's a bastard to use, nobody's going to buy your mousetrap.

Also, while Android has less curation of its app stores (unless you buy an Amazon device, in which case, it's a hell of a lot more 'closed' than Apple's), that just means any old newbie with a compiler can spam it with ill-designed shite and malware. Any good developer must fight through all that noise just to get noticed.

Apple's store curators may occasionally let the odd bit of malware slip through, but it's still rare. Furthermore, it's nothing like on the same scale as Android. And, from a support perspective – i.e. mine – that's a massive advantage: I have enough crap to deal with when relatives ask me to "look at" their PCs, without having to do the same thing for their phones as well.

You can keep your tat bazaar; I'll stick with the department store. The former may offer a greater choice, but the latter offers better quality. Choice for its own sake is pointless.

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Re: Simplez

How does it work now - do i have to develop separate uis for 3.5, 4, 8 and 10 inch? Having two separate sizes, as Jobs wanted, has some merits, but it's not scaleable if they then switch tactics and want to have many sizes. And why wasn't the first ipad criticised for lack of software? No, all we heard was how wonderful it was that you could run iphone apps on it.

If developers are lazy, they're not going to do well at creating whole new uis for every size anyway.

Apple don't do quality control - I'm not aware they'll disallow something just because it's not that good. Nokia have the better balance of doing checks for malicious software, whilst not banning it just because it's a competing browser or whatever. No the Google model isn't perfect, but I'd rather that then allowing apple decide what i can write it install.

It's hard to get noticed on android because there are so many apps. Apple has less users, more apps. No thanks.

You can keep your feature phone. I'll keep my smartphone platform that gives me the choice of vast amounts of quality hardware to choose from.

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Re: Simplez @ AC@12:34

Thanks for the advice, but the iPad both suits my fancy and fills the requirements. I looked long and hard at the competition when deciding on a tablet and the iPad is best for me and what I want to do with it.

The beef I currently have is that the Apple YouTube app was pretty good, until it got pulled in iOS 6. The current Google one is not an iPad app, just an iPhone one. It just gets scaled up to the larger screen. This looks bloody shite on the big screen. The old app had a lot of the functionality of the full web page. The iPhone app is severely limited by comparison.

And just to clarify one of your points. Some apps are iPhone size (like Google Maps) and scale to the larger screen. A few are "for iPad". The vast majority (such as Galaxy On Fire) are dual format and contain both the iPhone and iPad layouts in a single app. So purchasing these apps once lets you use it on iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, whichever you own.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simplez

Develop for both actually.

Apple force you to design UI's in absolute dimensions and ratios.

Android is FAR more flexible, and the fragments API allow you to put your common business logic underneath modular tablet and smartphone layouts.

It's superior to what Apple have come up with. The problem of course, is too many brainwashed idiots that believe the handful of apps that Apple wheel out is representative of Android as a whole.

Both platforms have good and bad apps. The upside of Android of course, is buy once, use on all your devices. Apple prefer the buy for every device approach.

I also don't see Google wheeling out all the bad Apple apps at the Google I/O. It's not because they don't exist, they do, it's just Google prefer to concentrate on what THEY are upto, not desperately trying to badmouth the competition by cherrypicking stats and apps.

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They should name it Andriod Maps.

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Just jail break it

Why bother trying to get the Maps onto the Apple store, just provide good clear instructions on jail breaking the iPhone. Apples customers are complaining about the Apple mapping SW, sounds like the perfect to slip a wedge between Apple and their once fanatically loyal customer base.

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Meh

"first builds of the completed application have been pushed out to beta testers"

Does this mean that Google has a list of naughty and nice iOS users - jail broken and virgins?

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I can't understand why Nokia don't sell nokia maps on other OSes

It seems strange that the one thing they have left, is being given away free.

With how good it is, a few years down the line, when sticking to Symbian becomes unsustainable, and I have to move to android (or jolla or tizen), I would be prepared to pay a reasonable amount to use Nokia maps on it. (It's not good enough to make me go to windows phone though.)

I would think it would be a viable product on iDevices too.

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Re: I can't understand why Nokia don't sell nokia maps on other OSes

Having played with Nokia maps in desperation during the crap map app flap rap, I was impressed by how much better the core mapping is than either Google's or Apple's technology.

The dataset is still some way behind, especially the satellite/aerial photography. But the vector graphic map is really rather fine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can't understand why Nokia don't sell nokia maps on other OSes

They have http://here.net

It has some 3D cities and landmarks and the results are really impressive.

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Re: I can't understand why Nokia don't sell nokia maps on other OSes

@Jess

Incidentally, I went to a Tizen developer day a couple of weeks back. Looks very promising, my next phone may well not be Android if it ends up as good as it seems!

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Bronze badge

http://here.net

I'd heard of it, and it looks very good. But it's free and online, and not an app like Nokia maps on my N8.

I don't need an internet connection. (Google maps was useless on my Blackberry in Serbia, despite free wifi everywhere. Hence going to back to Symbian.)

And how will giving away the only thing they have left help them? They need to sell it.

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WTF?

head off any more accusations that Apple is becoming the bully of the mobile apps market

Bully??!! More like the KGB. Obey or you're out. Obey and we will throw you out anyway.

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Facepalm

Pointless article

The implies that apple won't allow completion but then points out there are already other map apps. They also allowed google to compete with a browser and the shit YouTube app. If google is denied it'll be because their map app is poor quality or is a privacy concern.

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Re: Pointless article

Quality has never been a criteria with Apple apps. There is a mountain of guano on the App store. Farts, stupid noises, you name it.

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Time

We knew iOS 6.0 would not come with Google Maps months before its release. Google probably knew it even earlier. Why were they so fast on releasing the youtube app (even before iOS 6 release if I'm not mistaken), but have left it till November to even start trying with the maps app?

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Anonymous Coward

I hope Google then allow Apple Maps (which is superior for some users / situations) onto Android then.

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Anonymous Coward

Well Google Maps is far from perfect - I tried to use it yesterday (the browser version which works fine) - except it could not find the place I was looking for. Swapped over to Apple Maps - found it and navigated there no problems - so it's certainly not the case Google Maps is always better.

Also the satellite maps for this area at least are far newer on Apple Maps - Google's are more than 4 years old by the look of it - the Apple ones are about 12 months old - YMMV.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps Apple should just snap up Nokia for their mapping, a bucket load of patents and to either kill or cosy up with Microsoft Mobile devices.

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Alert

Nothing is free

I prefer to pay more for Apple products not only because of quality, but because I am not going to sell my soul to Google "free" offerings. Google is ad based and they literally rip off every single thing you do in order to push you context ads and now geographic ads. Try sending you're self various emails to you're Gmail and look at the ads... Google is reading you're mail and is recording everything you do. Google will also relay everything to any government agency if requested.

Android may be free, but there is a tradeoff. And dumping hardware at cost is currently destroying the entire tech sector into an unprecedented race to the bottom.

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Mushroom

Open Street Map

Such a pity apple just didn't go for Open Street Maps and give data BACK to the project so that everybody had a shot at taking on google.

Bottom line , Apple would rather keep their control to the detriment of their users.

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