Google unveils 'next dimension' in Maps with Apple breakup looming

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Google announced a slew of updates to its popular mapping software Wednesday, a week after reports surfaced that Apple would be dropping its Google Maps software by year-end.

At a special event held in San Francisco today that promised “the next dimension of Google maps,” the search giant unveiled a revamped Google Earth mobile app, which now sports 3-D models for entire cities, among other updates such as a new Street View Trekker. In a few weeks, Android users will also have an “offline” mode for Google Maps.

“We’re trying to create magic here,” the company said during the event, part of a “never ending quest for the perfect map.”

For Google, it’s the perfect time to show off its technical expertise in the field after Apple recently decided their Maps app surplus to requirements, banishing it from the iPhone platform by the end of the year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

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 their own in-house platform gives Apple more control over its product and ultimate user experience.

With expected to demo their 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.