updated 10:55 pm EDT, Mon May 30, 2011
Google won't touch question of Apple map swap
Google's Location VP Marissa Mayer in an interview at the recently wrapped up TechCrunch Disrupt event skirted the question of Apple possibly dropping Google Maps. When asked what Google will do if iOS suddenly stops using its engine in favor of an in-house solution, Mayer sand she was "not going to speculate" as to future plans. She steered the question towards the importance of mobile as a whole and noted that mobile was due to overtake the desktop in the near future.
She did take the opportunity to tout edges Google Maps on Android had over the iOS version, including vector-based maps. Apple's version has to use bandwidth-intensive tiles, but the vectors fit information into a hundredth of the space and enable much more aggressive caching with offline mapping. Google was also planning to use its Wi-Fi hotspot database to improve location finding when a city's geography blocks cellular or GPS satellite data.
Apple has signalled disdain for having to rely on Android's designer for its map data and has been showing small signs of trying to move away, such as buying Placebase for map layers and web-based map developer Poly9. It would still need a map database and possibly other technology, however, and signs have surfaced that the company may still have Google's underlying engine through at least iOS 5.
Regardless of platform, Mayer raised the possibility of "serendipitous" suggestions in Google Maps, which could suggest things to do based on a user's location and without input. The feature could come within two years, she said.