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As breakup with Apple looms, Google shows off some 'magic'

  • google_earth_3d.JPG

    Google Earth gets real-time 3-D rendering.Google

  • google_maps_new_dimension.JPG

    The invitation Google sent out last week for the company's Maps event today.Google

It might take a love potion to stop this breakup.

In the wake of reports that Apple plans to drop Google's Maps software by year-end in favor of a home grown solution, Google announced a slew of updates to its popular mapping software Wednesday.

"We're trying to create magic here," the company said during a special event held in San Francisco, part of a "never ending quest for the perfect map."

At the event, at which Google promised "the next dimension of Google maps," the search giant unveiled a revamped Google Earth mobile app, which now sports 3D models for entire cities, among other updates such as a new Street View Trekker -- a backpack-based system to allow the company to map on foot locations such as the Grand Canyon. In a few weeks, Android users will also have an “offline” mode for Google Maps.

'We’re trying to create magic here.'

- Google

Among the magical new features: an expanded Map Maker tool to allow residents of Finland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and more to report mapping errors.

Will these changes be enough to keep Apple spellbound? Not everyone was convinced.

"The message here is: There’s lots of effort, technical expertise and money behind Google’s mapping efforts — this can’t be easily duplicated," wrote Greg Sterling on the SearchEngineLand website. "The company is trying to educate journalists who’ll probably be writing about Apple Maps next week."

For Google, showing off the company's technical expertise in the field is key should Apple officially announce a decision to build a Maps replacement, banishing Google's service from the iPhone platform by the end of the year, as a recent report from the Wall Street Journal indicated.

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Google Maps has served as the default map app and is now used by more than 90 percent of U.S. iPhone users.

The breakup could turn out to be an expensive one for Google as the ongoing war for mobile supremacy continues. By some estimates, ads associated with maps or locations accounted for 25 percent of all spending on mobile ads.

"Apple is aiming squarely at Google on multiple dimensions," Rajeev Chand, a managing director at investment bank Rutberg & Co., told the WSJ citing mapping and Web search. "Google and Apple are in a battle over data, devices, services, and the future of computing. This is the historic battle of today."

Beyond potential revenue streams, developing an in-house platform gives Apple more control over its product and ultimate user experience.

With Apple expected to demonstrate its new software next week during its annual WWDC developer’s conference on June 11, this may have been Google’s last chance to make a statement.

Were you spellbound?