Google has spoken: The company is not working on a maps app for the iPhone. "We have not done anything yet," Google's Eric Schmidt said to a group of reporters in Tokyo, when asked about a forthcoming Google Maps alternative to the not very well-received native Apple Maps app. That should disappoint at least a chunk of the 100 million iPhone owners that upgraded to iOS 6, plus some of those millions of new iPhone 5 owners, who say they miss Google's superior maps. But Google is in the smartphone business, too, with their Android OS, and now they can say that there's an area where they definitively have a better feature than the iPhone.
It doesn't sound like the most hopeless cause, however, if Google has any say in it. Schmidt made it sound like Google might at least try to fashion something, which would take who knows how long. And any app the company submitted would still have to get Apple's approval. "It’s their choice," said Schmidt.
For now, those looking for an alternative to Apple's Maps have few choices. They can simply wait around, hoping that the engineers Apple poached from Google will speed up the recovery process. That's not an awful plan. People are what Apple needs to fix this issue, as we explained—even if it will take a very long time. Plus, while everyone is freaking out about the Maps' shortcomings, the app still gets the job done most of the time, as Apple co-founder (and Android phone owner) Steve Wozniak explained to ZDNet's Spanda's Lui. "I have been reading about the problems, and I don't know if they are that severe," he said. "It's not that hard to deal with in life. I don't know yet about Maps,- I'm a little worried about the navigation, but I've still got it covered with a bunch of other navigation apps," he continued. And depending on the country, Apple's Maps might be better than Google Maps. At least one programmer in China says that the new offering is an improvement.
For those not willing to settle for Apple, there are some decent options. For those who have older iPhones, consider not upgrading to the new iOS. That's an especially compelling idea for those who have the iPhone 4, as many of iOS 6 updates -- like Siri, and some of the Maps fanciness -- only apply to the 4S. Or, for those who have already ditched iOS 5, a hacker ported the original Google Maps app to the new iOS 6 (video footage of that below). But, this isn't really a realistic option for most people, as it involves jailbreaking and isn't "redistributable" in the words of the hacker who figured it out. Or, like Woz (and people in Japan) users could supplement Maps' faults with other apps.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.