updated 06:30 pm EST, Wed March 7, 2012
iPhoto iOS now using custom map info
A search through iPhoto for iOS has discovered that Apple has dropped Google Maps tile data for the software. Checks by 512pixels showed that new app uses information that's both cosmetically different as well as based on different data, ranging from high-level terrain data to low-level urban coverage. A follow-up investigation by Holger Eilhard has shown that the tiles are being extracted from a gsp2.apple.com server and not Google.
Who's providing the new map information isn't clear. The most likely answer is data produced by PlaceBase, which Apple acquired in 2009. Neither Bing Maps nor OpenStreetMap normally resemble this look, although OpenStreetMap can be customized for a cosmetic match.
The shift is likely a further attempt to distance Apple from the Google services it once depended on heavily in the past. Apart from wanting to avoid the irony of seeing the Google logo in an Apple product, Apple is believed wanting to both spite and reduce its dependency on the company building Android. Apple's emphasis on sharing on Vimeo in OS X Mountain Lion, and not YouTube, is also part of this strategy.
iOS 5.1's Maps app still depends on Google and may not change soon. Concerns have been raised that Apple may strip out features solely to punish Google, but doing so would currently cost it mass transit directions, Street View, traffic, and numerous other features that neither PlaceBase nor other acquisition Poly9 could immediately provide.