Google Expands Street View, Still No iOS App
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s difficult to imagine Google was caught off guard when Apple announced they were taking their Maps matters into their own hands with iOS 6. Apple even acknowledged they were working on a “crowd-sourced traffic database” in April of 2011, not to mention the strategic moves the iPhone maker had been making since then.
So, for whatever reason, Google didn´t have their own iOS-ready version of maps whenever Apple finally pushed them from the nest last month.
We all know how that went.
Google Maps have always been available on the iPhone, of course, either through the native and Apple designed Maps app or via mobile Safari. The issue many had with Apple´s new iOS 6 maps (besides having their important roads and landmarks melted into oblivion) was the lack of public transit routes and Street View, Google´s extensive data set which shows actual images captured by their globally roving automobiles. While the rest of Google´s maps works in Safari, including public transit routes and times, Street View was unavailable. That is, until last week when Google included this feature in the mobile version of their maps.
In what could be an effort to placate those who are still looking for a proper iOS ready app, Google has announced that these iPhone users will now be able to use Street View to see even more places than before.
“Today we´re making our Street View coverage more comprehensive than ever before by launching our biggest ever update–doubling our number of special collections and updating over 250,000 miles of roads around the world,” announced Google in their LatLong Blog.
“We´re increasing Street View coverage in Macau, Singapore, Sweden, the US, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada. And we´re launching special collections in South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico, among others.”
This update to Street View also brings more monuments and historic landmarks into frame, such as Catherine Palace and Ferapontov monastery in Russia or Stanley Park in Vancouver.
Street View now presents users with the opportunity to take a virtual stroll through Kronborg castle, which was immortalized in Shakespeare´s Hamlet.
While any improvement to Street View will be welcomed by iPhone users, this update may be seen as poor substitute for an app.
In an interview earlier this week with the Wall Street Journal´s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Google´s executive chairman Eric Schmidt admitted they knew Apple was making their own apps, but would not say if Google had been preparing their own iOS version.
“Apple should have kept our maps,” Schmidt said. “They’re better maps.”
“We invested hundred of millions of dollars in satellite work, airplane work, drive-by work, and we think we have the best product in the industry.”
As for an iOS ready Google Maps? Schmidt turned the spotlight on Apple once again, saying that any app would have to be approved first.
“They haven’t approved all of Google’s offerings over the years.”