Turn-by-turn directions scuppered Apple/Google Maps deal

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The reason so many iPhone users are getting lost is that Apple and Google couldn't agree on turn-by-turn directions, a new report claims.

According to All Things Digital, the companies ended their Google Maps licensing agreement because Apple wanted the feature - available on Android - and Google wasn't prepared to hand it over.

"There were a number of issues inflaming negotiations, but voice navigation was the biggest," a source told the site. "Ultimately, it was a deal-breaker."

Instead, Apple developed its own mapping app, which has become the subject of many thousands of complaints; it omits some cities and towns while moving others miles, gives bizarre directions and confuses landmarks. Here in Oxford, for example, the railway station is identified as a Chinese takeaway.

What's surprising is that Apple decided to dump its agreement with Google even though the deal still had a year to run. But, according to All Things Digital's sources, it decided to go ahead with its own app as soon as it realized that it could implement turn-by-turn directions itself.

Apple's now playing catch-up, advertising for ex-Google Maps staff to help patch up all the problems. The company will "pour as much time and manpower into repairing Maps as it takes," one executive told the New York Times.

The company's playing it humble, implying that it's a bit much to expect a really functional product.

"We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it," it said in a statement last week. "We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get." So it's down to us, guys.