Apple removed Google services from its iOS software with iOS 6, shedding both the native YouTube application, as well as Google Maps. Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps application, and included new features such as FlyOver and Turn-by-Turn directions. According to a report from TechCrunch, Apple is looking to improve its Maps, by acquiring turn-by-turn navigation company, Waze.
Waze brings a number of social features to navigation, allowing users to add in their own information as they travel. The service then learns from the routes traveled and provides routing and real-time traffic updates to others. Waze is already a partner in Apple’s Maps application, however, an acquisition would make the current Maps app much better. Apple’s Maps application launched to intense scrutiny after the service failed to locate some areas improperly and removed highly utilized features such as public transportation information.
TechCrunch’s own MG Siegler believes that it is unlikely that Apple is looking to purchase Waze and mentions that the two companies are likely in low-level discussions, having worked together prior to these reports.
Apple has been reported to be hashing out a deal with Foursquare for its Maps app. However, TechCrunch’s earlier report notes that if Apple were to acquire Waze, it would benefit the company more than data from Foursquare as it would not only be cheaper but because “Check-In” apps tend to not be as accurate as navigation apps.
Because Waze maps are built on the location of moving cars, it’s far more accurate than check-in apps. Outside of Google’s project to map cities with Streetview cars – something which has taken years to complete – and the real-world mapping undertaken by volunteers on the Open Streetmaps open source project, there has been little to match Waze’s approach. Waze turned mapping into not only a game, but also a way for drivers to be social, reporting road obstacles, traffic and police traps. It is properly useful.
Waze has about 30 million users and is available for iOS, Android Windows Mobile, Maemo, Symbian, and BlackBerry OS (beta). It is also listed as one of the alternative apps for users unhappy with Apple’s Maps after Apple CEO Tim Cook compiled a list to address user complaints.