Google has updated their online HTML5 Maps web app for both Android and iOS. But wait, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch already have built in Google Maps, right? Well, they have built-in Maps apps that use Google data, but the apps themselves are made by Apple and Apple hasn’t exactly been updating them at a brisk pace.
So, like they’ve done in the past for Gmail and YouTube, Google is using Apple’s “second development platform” — complete with location services and local storage cache — to get their own versions of their apps onto iOS and into the hands of users.
Now, when you visit maps.google.com on your phone or tablet’s browser and opt-in to share your location, you can use many of the same Google Maps features you’re used to from the desktop. This will allow you to:
- See your current location
- Search for what’s nearby with suggest and auto complete
- Have clickable icons of popular businesses and transit stations
- Get driving, transit, biking, and walking directions
- Turn on satellite, transit, traffic, biking, and other layers
- View Place pages with photos, ratings, hours, and more
- When signed into your Google account, access your starred locations and My Maps
It’s a smart move by Google, especially if rumors of Apple working on their own, next-generation maps app pans out. Apple has already replaced both Skyhook and Google with their own location database, and Apple has bought a couple of their own map-related technology companies as well.
Google is arguably the best in the world at web apps and while Apple would prefer everyone buy their shiny boxes and use commodity apps and services, Google wants the box to be commodity and the services to be the real, ad-driven value. By going HTML5, Google gets to dictate the look-and-feel across platform, ensuring a Google experience.
And like with Gmail, they even offer to help you put a WebClip icon right on your home page so you can use the HTML5 Maps web app rather than the iOS Maps app with the tap for a finger.