updated 11:11 pm EST, Thu November 15, 2012
WSJ sources believe app is being evaluated outside Google
According to sources familiar with the matter, Google is distributing beta versions of an iOS 6 compatible Google Maps application. The Wall Street Journal's source claims that Google is putting the finishing touches on the app before submitting it to the Apple iTunes store. An Apple spokesman said the company doesn't comment on apps that haven't been submitted for approval.
A Google spokesman said that "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." MacNN got confirmation that the company was working on an iOS 6-compatible version of the app, which was removed by Apple after a failure to get Google to implement features it reserved for its Android version such as turn-by-turn navigation, shortly after iOS 6 was announced -- despite later official denials from Google.
Users of iOS 6 Maps have complained about inaccuracies, missing features, and instances of badly-rendered graphics, though complaints have receded as Apple has worked to upgrade the application through background updates. Apple yanked the Google-powered version of its own Maps app out of iOS 6, even though it had over a year left on its contract, and implemented its own mapping solution that features vector illustrations, better offline performance, turn-by-turn and (on the latest iPhone models) voice navigation and Siri integration.
Nonetheless, mapping errors, incomplete coverage and other issues caused users to feel that the service had been downgraded, with Google having more comprehensive coverage and a wider range of features. Though Google may have a nearly complete Maps app for iOS 6, the company has hinted that it may still be some months before it reaches the App Store, possibly due to reticence from Apple to undermine its own Maps application. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a rare apology over the state of the app shortly after the iOS 6 launch, and has promised continued improvements.