Nokia has pulled its Here Maps app from the Apple App Store. Here Maps, while eclipsed by Google Maps and several iOS mapping applications in terms of popularity, was heralded for a feature that came in handy in times of limited connectivity or excessive data charges: offline navigation. Here Maps remains available on Windows Phone.
The decision to remove Here Maps from Apple’s iOS marketplace can be traced to iOS 7 and the alterations that the mobile operating system update brought to the platform, according to Nokia.
In a statement to CNET, Nokia claimed that “recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience”. Nokia suggests that iPhone and iPad users that are fans of their mapping technology use their mobile browsers instead.
iPhone users can continue to use the mobile web version of Here Maps under m.here.com, offering them core location needs, such as search, routing, orientation, transit information and more, all completely free of charge,” stated Nokia.
Pressed further, a Nokia spokeswoman struck a diplomatic tone. She told CNET, “We don’t want to blame Apple or iOS 7 – the app simply was not optimised for iOS 7 so we decided to remove it.”
It’s not the first time iOS has become a battleground for navigation apps.
Apple dropped Google Maps as the default mapping application for iOS 6 in 2012, and instead issued its own. Tech reviewers and users were not pleased, by and large.
All Things D’s Walter Mossberg called Apple’s Maps app a “step backward” from Google’s offering, marring an otherwise positive review of the then-new iPhone 5. Among Apple Maps’ faults were sometimes inaccurate results and reality-warping 3D views.
Public backlash was so pronounced that Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the rare step of issuing a public apology. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers, and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” he stated in a letter posted on the Apple.com website. In its wake, the Apple Maps debacle left Richard Williamson, who managed the developer team responsible for the application, without his position at the company.
Explaining why the company made the switch, Cook said his company “had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up” to natively provide features such as turn-by-turn directions and vector-based maps. “We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard,” pledged Cook.
Despite Cook’s assurances, users flocked to Google Maps when it became available again as a separate app on 13 December, 2012. After the first 48 hours of availability, the app had racked up 10 million downloads.
A year later, there are hints that Apple is taking the Maps app overhaul seriously. Apple quietly acquired BroadMap’s talent and IP this year. BroadMap is a provider of geographic information system (GIS) tools for businesses whose customers include MapQuest and Nokia.