Google Upgrades Android Maps as Apple Battle Looms
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google’s mapping service for mobile devices is getting an upgrade as the Internet search leader braces for new competition from iPhone maker Apple.
The improvements center on listings for public transportation options in nearly 500 cities around the world. Wednesday’s update includes suggested routes and departure times for more than 1 million stations worldwide, about 50 percent more than a year ago. At some stations, Google will provide indoor directions to help riders navigate the system.
To highlight what it sees as a competitive advantage, Google is offering its latest improvements only on devices running its Android operating software. They include models from Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp., Sony Corp. and Google’s Motorola Mobility division. Google said it eventually hopes to make the upgrades available for other systems, including the iPhone and the iPad, but it didn’t say when.
The changes come as Apple Inc. prepares to oust Google’s maps as the automatic navigation service on the iPhone and the iPad. Apple will offer its own mobile mapping service in the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system due out this fall. The switch could come as early as next month if the release of Apple’s next iPhone comes then, as several technology blogs have speculated.
Apple’s snub represents a major blow for Google Inc., which stands to lose mobile advertising revenue and valuable insights about people’s whereabouts if users of the popular iPhone and iPad devices embrace the alternative mapping service from Apple.