As many suspected, Google submitted a Google Maps to Apple and it was released overnight into December 13th. After the premature release of Apple Maps with iOS 6, it is a welcome sight. But it is also a rather complicated holiday gift for serious developers and business owners.
As you may know, AllStays provides the number one apps for campers (Camp and RV) and trucker drivers (Truck and Travel). They rely on maps underneath the data. It is not at easy as flipping a switch and having top apps like ours go from one map type to another.
Now developers have a choice to make. Apple Maps or Google Maps. Google also released a SDK for developers, which allows the maps to be displayed within the app, that we have to sign up for and get approval from Google. Only time will tell if that will be quickly available to all or limited to a select few for months. I suspect they will want to move it along quickly but are keeping an eye out for bugs as it rolls out.
What if a user loves one map type over another? How to choose? Some people will complain with either choice. Some will email or leave bad reviews based on maps platform that we really don't control. All of these are costs to the developer. It is also a form of whiplash to make major changes back and forth to a single app in just a few months time.
With our apps dealing with broad North American coverage and remote locations, Google Maps is far better than Apple in many locales. We already postponed covering Australia because of the new Apple Maps issues and the possibility of people dying in the outback because of that product.
The new Google Maps was released early on December 13. The holiday shutdown for Apple developers is fast approaching. Assuming it was even possible to get approved for the Google Maps SDK, a developer has to learn it, get it in their app, test it and submit to Apple. Then there is a review process that takes about a week, more or less. If all that goes well, a developer then has to decide to release a big update right before the holiday shutdown when they won't be able to fix it for quite some time.
We try to make AllStays apps available to as many people as possible. We are not in the business of selling hardware or hardware upgrades so we like to support earlier devices and iOS versions. This means that we need a solution to provide all map types that are needed for as many devices as possible and all in one app. Right now, the default maps are Google on older iOS devices and Apple Maps on iOS 6 devices. Then we have two buttons for directions, one for each platform, so users have a choice or even use both to verify locations better.
All of this means that it won't be integrated very soon, despite the news coverage possibly leading to other expectations.
As of December 13, we are waiting to see the feedback on the maps app, waiting for a iPad version which is supposed to be out soon, waiting to get approved to use it as a developer and then will try and figure out the best way forward for our users.