SAN FRANCISCO – Google added Street View to its maps feature for mobile browsers, enhancing the navigation service available to iPhone users who don’t have the tool built in to their handsets.
Users of Apple’s iPhone can get quick access to Street View, which offers panoramic images of locations, by saving a Web bookmark to the home screen of the phone, Google said on a blog post.
Apple’s decision to build its own navigation application reflects a widening rift with Google, which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone debuted in 2007. While Apple’s new software adds features such as turn-by-turn navigation, it is widely faulted for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and a lack of public transit directions.
Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized last month for the iPhone mapping software, vowing to improve the feature. In the meantime, he encouraged customers to download mapping applications such as Microsoft’s Bing, Waze and MapQuest from the company’s App Store. He said users also could use iPhone’s Internet browser to use Google’s mapping application.
Apple’s mapping application was released as part of the new iOS 6 software, which runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Even as Apple’s maps were criticized, the company sold a record 5 million iPhones during the handset’s debut weekend. Apple also said that the software with its new mapping feature was being used on more than 100 million mobile devices.
Google has been building out its online mapping software since 2005, using cars and satellites to accumulate data that help improve its accuracy and reliability.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Sept. 25 that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps. It would have been better if they had kept ours, Schmidt said. What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.
Nate Tyler, a spokesman for Google, didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the company plans to make a Google Maps app for Apple devices.