In addition to its recent release of the Google Maps app for iOS, Google is now offering up its vector-based maps to iOS developers who would like an alternative to Apple’s map data. Devs can replace Apple’s native MapKit APIs with the Google Maps SDK for iOS.
Apple’s native MapKit APIs originally gave iOS developers native access to the 2D map data supplied by Google in previous versions of iOS. However, Apple claimed that it needed to build its own mapping database in order to give iOS’s Maps app improved features like efficient, high-resolution vector data, 3D “flyover” views, turn-by-turn navigation, and more. Apple replaced the backend mapping data in iOS 6 with its own data, and those changes were passed down to MapKit, and hence any app that used MapKit.
Apple’s data has come under fire, with the various problems with Apple Maps severe enough that Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology.
Late Wednesday, Google released its own Google Maps app for iOS, which includes vector-based tiles and turn-by-turn navigation. Google is now allowing any iOS developer to to use that same data via the Google Maps SDK. The license agreement does prohibit its use for turn-by-turn navigation, but gives the developers access to Google data store.
“The SDK features vector-based maps that load quickly, allowing users to easily navigate 2D and 3D views, rotating and tilting the map with simple gestures inside your app,” Google Maps Senior Product Manager Andrew Foster wrote in a blog post. “Developers can also change the Google maps view to include information such as traffic conditions, and control camera positions in 3D.”
Google also has available a custom URL scheme for developers to use to link directly to the Google Maps app if installed, instead of needing to embed maps directly.