Google's much rumoured Maps for iOS 6 are a step closer to release. According to a report
in The Wall Street Journal, Google has started sharing the app outside the company for testing purposes, which indicates the app is not too far way from being submitted to Apple's App Store for approval.
Google has distributed a test version of its new mapping app that will work on Apple's iPhones to some individuals outside the company, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Google has been putting the finishing touches on the app before submitting it for approval to the Apple iTunes store, this person said, though it's unclear exactly when that will happen.
As expected, Apple refused to comment on the report, while a Google spokesman told WSJ, "We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."
Apple's iPhone traditionally came bundled with Google Maps since the release of the original iPhone. Apple announced its decision to ditch Google Maps
in favour of its own at this year's WWDC in June. The demo was well received
at the time with new features like Flyover and voice navigation generating plenty of buzz. That quickly changed when the Maps
actually came out in September along with iOS 6, as the 'gaps' in Apple's dataset became evident. (See
: 10 new features in Apple's new iOS 6
Apple's Maps were widely criticised
to the point where Apple was forced to post a public apology
and suffer the embarrassment of pointing its users to third-party alternatives
. Some speculate that 'Mapgate' was responsible for the departure of iPhone software development head
Scot Forstall from the company.
For a while now, speculation has been rife
about Google releasing its Maps as a third-party app on Apple's App Store and it looks like those rumours are about to come to fruition.