March 8, 2012
In addition to launching the new iPad, Apple also completed iLife for iOS yesterday with the release of the mobile app version of iPhoto for its popular line of post-PC portable devices. As announced, the main features of the new iPhoto for iOS include multi-touch photo editing, photo beaming (between supported devices) and photo journals. But, hours after its launch, what seems to be getting considerable attention is something about the app that was never mentioned, even in passing, during yesterday's Apple keynote. It's the apparent absence of Google Maps integration in iPhoto for iOS. The matter at hand found its way to avid Apple speculators, most of whom may still be reeling with excitement after yesterday's torrent of announcements, via Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels. Hackett, perhaps while trying out the new iPhoto for iOS for the first time, noticed something different in the appearance of a map tile in the app. Comparing it alongside a map tile from the clearly Google Maps-supported iPhoto for Mac (see below), Hackett was able to verify that the map tile was indeed from a mapping service other than Google Maps. John Gruber of Daring Fireball did some sleuthing of his own and found out that while iPhoto's Places is still using Google Maps, the location features in photo journals and slideshows are not, and are instead using Apple’s as yet unannounced mapping utility. Another Apple news writer, Holger Eilhard, further lent credence to this claim with his rather geeky discovery that the map tiles in question originate from Apple's own servers. Apple is certainly no stranger to making moves by stealth, and often these seemingly inconsequential moves ultimately amount to something significant. Over the past few years, Apple acquired several mapping companies, and now it appears that the company has finally begun integrating these acquisitions into its top-line products. If this pushes through, the termination of Apple's partnership with mobile computing rival Google may be just around the corner, at least as far as location-based services are concerned. Poor Google Maps. Just a week ago it was dropped by Foursquare in favor of MapBox Streets, a cheaper map provider based on the crowd-sourced data of OpenStreetMap. And now comes a much bigger blow in the form of a much larger company seemingly intent on doing away with it, too.