January 7, 2013
Google Maps Not Being Intentionally Blocked On Windows Phones, Company Says
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The flawed Internet Explorer browser, not bad blood with Microsoft, is the reason that Windows Phone users have been unable to access Google Maps on their mobile devices, officials from the Mountain View, California-based tech giant have claimed.
As reported Friday by Salvador Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Times, Google representatives said that nothing had changed in the web mapping application. Rather, it was redirecting users to Google search page because it had never been designed to work with Microsoft's in-house browser on the Windows phone.
"The mobile Web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile Web," the company told Rodriguez.
However, by Saturday, the company said that because of improvements made to Internet Explorer, the redirect would be removed and Windows Phone users would be able to access Google Maps, Slashgear's Brittany Hillen said.
The company went on to explain that they run periodic tests of the application's compatibility with various mobile browsers, and that in their most recent test, Internet Explorer came up short because of the lack of pan and zoom features and the inability to "perform basic map functionality." Thus, the decision was made to redirect users to Google's homepage so that they could "at least make local searches."
However, as PCMag.com writer Chloe Albanesius points out, some have questioned Google's explanation, because Google Maps could be reached using Mozilla's Firefox mobile browser, even though it, too, does not use WebKit.
The company explained that the redirect was not used on Firefox because it offered "a somewhat better user experience" than Internet Explorer. However, they added that because of "recent improvements" to Microsoft's browser, "Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect." Albanesius notes that the company "did not elaborate on what those recent improvements entailed."
Some believe that there may be another reason for the Google Maps redirect -- a budding feud between Google and Microsoft. That is, of course, merely speculation, but as Rodriguez says, "The theory that Google chose to cut off Microsoft's users may have seemed plausible because Microsoft recently blasted the Federal Trade Commission for ending an antitrust investigation on Google."
"Earlier this week, Microsoft also called out Google for not building a full version of its YouTube app for Windows Phone and for not letting Microsoft build one either," he added.