Google brings Street View to iOS via mobile web site update

Alex Masters

streetview car 300x225 Google brings Street View to iOS via mobile web site updateIn light of the recent Apple Maps controversy that plagued the iPhone 5 launch and saw the removal of Google Maps in iOS, Google have updated their mobile web app to include Street View mode. This should help compensate the many frustrated iOS 6 users for the time being, while Google builds a native Google Maps app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and trying to preventing users from switching to alternative services such as Garmin’s updated Navigon app.

The Google Street View mobile experience is similar to that of the previous Google Maps app on iOS, albeit a little less smooth and polished. Not that the old maps app was anything to get excited about. Just as before, you can use your fingers to pan around and view locations in 360 degrees via a first-person perspective using the device’s touch screen.

While Apple’s iOS developers scramble to improve the Apple Maps experience, Google have a unique opportunity to show off their Android operating system, using Google Maps as the hook to reel Apple fans in. I was demonstrating Google Maps on Android to an iPhone user this weekend and he was blown away by how feature-rich the experience was compared to the iOS equivalent.

I spent a few extra minutes showing off a series of Android’s best features to him and he was astonished at how polished and advanced it was. By the time I had finished, he became genuinely angry with how little his iPhone 5 had in comparison. I did the same with about half a dozen more iPhone 4 and 4S users to see if this was just a one off but each person was markedly impressed with the latest version of Android.

I was surprised by how little people knew about Android and its features compared to iOS. It became obvious that this mapping misstep by Apple gives Google a unique opportunity to show off Android to an audience that normally wouldn’t consider anything other than the iPhone, but for a short period of time their eyes and ears are wide open to alternatives.

Arguably the biggest barrier preventing people from switching platforms is their investment in apps. If you have to pay for all your apps again just to make the switch, then this would be a deal breaker for most people. Perhaps it’s time Google offered a service in conjunction with app developers to allow a purchased app to be transferred from one OS to another. If I were Google, I’d do anything I could to capitalise on Apple’s PR fumble.

Have you considered switching in light of the recent maps issues? Is Google Maps a deal breaker for you? Would you make the switch if you could take your paid apps with you? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Fool_Brittania

    Most of your 100+ Apps are standard with the Samsung Note 2 and the S3.

    Just think, Apple took 30% commission on every one of them – using Apple doesn’t come cheap AND you can’t expand memory unlike the Samsung which thoughtfully provides an SD socket.

    So your 100+ are reducing the amount of data you can process / store. Little wonder Apple needs the iCloud!

  • aldredd

    Because iPhone users aren’t a community that want to support each other. They want everything handed to them. They won’t want to work as a ‘crowd’ to improve the app.
    ok, there will be some that will, and there are plenty of google users who don’t want to / don’t know how to / don’t know they can etc – but this will be a bigger problem for apple with a much lower overall user base from which to expect these maps to be improved by.

  • Brian C

    I think you’ve missed the point, I can’t see any sensible reason to change from a system that works well to one that appears to be less secure.
    Many of the apps i use were free and if I changed I would have the hassle of starting all over again. I don’t need loads of fancy features I’m not going to use so I think I’ll stick with my Apple.

  • countgrassi

    You’ve made me think a bit more on changing BUT with the iphone it’s all to do with the DESIGN and user-friendliness. It may well be lacking to a certain extent in comparison to Samsung or HTC. It remains though a beautiful design. Don’t underestimate this as important over function. In saying that the iphone is brilliant in terms of function too. If your level of geekiest is high get an android. Otherwise stick with the overall best on offer – the iphone.

  • Alex Masters

    Great comment, thanks for spending the time writing this. As an Apple computer user I love how they have developed their desktop OS (although I’m not too keen on the iOS features and skeuomorphism making their way into the experience), but I find the iOS experience lacking in a lot of ways.

    A common misconception is that Android users like Android because you can tinker with it and change the skin, fonts and functions etc, but that is not generally the case. People say that Android is like Windows in that way, but I totally disagree it’s the other way around.

    Android feels like the OS X equivalent in the mobile space, iOS makes the iPhone feel like a ‘my first smartphone’ experience.

    Android users love the OS because it offers a huge array of helpful features that simply cannot be found on iOS. I think Apple aren’t innovating as much with iOS simply because the competition are snapping up all the other possible features ahead of Apple. The competition are slowly but surely starting to think like Apple and that is hindering iOS development in my opinion.

    Not only that but patents will hold back iOS innovation too. It’s going to be hard for Apple to take iOS in any new direction when the competition are covering all the bases already. Interesting times ahead.

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