Maps blame game

John Gruber:

Google wasn’t trying to bolster Android by withholding turn-by-turn and vector tiles from iOS. They were withholding those features as a negotiating tactic to get Apple to integrate iOS Maps further with Google’s services.

I don’t mind the fact that Apple stood up to Google to protect our privacy. You shouldn’t either.

  • Exactly

  • bjwanlund

    I agree completely. I haven’t even booted it up for the first time yet, but I am glad we have options now, even though I have personally had nothing but good experiences with Apple Maps.

  • Bob

    This may give us a glimpse into the future of mobile. We will have two primary choices. One choice will be cheaper but you give up your privacy. The other option is more expensive but you control your personal information. Granted this exists to a certain degree right now but I think it may become more obvious to the average consumer down the road.

    • EVula

      That’s how I look at iOS/Android. I had a friend say she didn’t like having her information in iCloud… but she uses Gmail, which is infinitely worse when it comes to giving up privacy.

  • tylernol

    if the service is free, than you are the one being sold..

  • “I’d say neither company was being a “jerk” here. Apple and Google were both acting in their own interests.”

    Or it was all a total dick move on google’s part. I guess it depends on who you ask.

  • Techpm

    I think Google will eventually run into problems sooner or later with their lax attitute towards privacy.

    Senator Al Franken’s location privacy bill, which requires apps to be gain approval before collecting location data, already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    If it passes congress next year, Google’s map app will need to be changed to make location collection opt-in, not an opt-out buried under 6 screens.

    • Technically it already is opt-in – as soon as Google requests your location you are presented with a dialog asking for your permission to use your location. I’d be surprised if they need to do anything more if this location privacy bill passes.

      On top of that the very first time you run Google Maps they ask you if you’d like to share your location data with them. This is the very first screen the very first time you run, not “buried under 6 screens.” By default this checkbox is enabled – again, I’d be surprised if they have to change it.

      • Techpm

        The standard location dialog only asks for permission to get “your current location”, not to track your movements in time and upload them to servers.

        The initial request in the app itself is also unsuitable, as according to the Senator’s bill the permission must be “displayed by the electronic communications device, separate and apart from any final end user license agreement, privacy policy, terms of use page,or similar document;”

        In Google maps’ case the location data collection request is shown in the same screen when agreeing with the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, so it doesn’t satisfy the bill.

        People are used to have to tick a checkbox when agreeing to Terms of Services. It’s a bit sneaky of Google to have put a checkbox and small font for a different sort of permission there.

  • Jeff

    Ok… You can twist this around, but I still don’t know how this is good for Apple. What developers are going to continue to write for Apple’s API’s if you can write for Google’s only, it can launch in iOS, but it can also work on the desktop & on Android as well? If I was a developer, like Embark, I’ve just been kicked in the stomach. Apple better get it’s game on on the desktop (they won’t write for Android) because there is really no incentive to write for their API’s now.

    • rattyuk

      So the bit where Apple wanted lots of features and Google said “no, we want your customers data” and Apple said no counts for nothing then?

      • That’s an overly simplistic and negative view. Google didn’t just want data, they wanted features added.

        Latitude is VERY useful for families, etc. Apple wanted X for free and Google wanted to trade for it “give us Y and we’ll give you X.”

        That’s business.

      • Jeff

        No, it does, count for something, but just like a developer who writes for where he can get the most bang for his buck, developers and web designers who were writing for Apple were doing that because the new Apple API’s were all there were. My Privacy counts, but lazy developers/web designers want to write for the easiest, and they don’t want to re-write web pages, if they already link to google maps. Now they are not forced to write for Apple’s API’s.

        I just think that if Apple doesn’t invest in it now, it will go the way of ping. Why would developers write for an also-ran API. Apple has a serious deficiency in the area where Google excels. Server side services.

  • Exactly and the inverse is true as well. You shouldn’t mind the fact that Google stood up to Apple either.

    • Steven Fisher

      Both are being loyal their customers, and standing up for their customers’ rights. But in only one case was the customer the end user.

      • You can assume that all you want, won’t make it true.

        Apple could have easily added the same option Google did in GMaps to not send location data. To paint them as a white knight protecting their users is really presumptive and, with all due respect, full of blind faith.

        • tylernol

          come on now, Apple does not use your location data to sell to advertisers. Google whores you out to whoever gives them money. Thinking otherwise is simply naive

          • Thinking Apple is doing anything other than focusing on profit is simply naive.

            The data you send (to Apple or Google) is used to better the service and is anonymous. Show me one event where Google misused personal information and I’ll change my view to be more negative towards data sharing w/ Google.

          • tylernol

            Of course, but it is how they achieve that profit that is the difference to me. Google commodifies you and sells you to others. Have you ever used Adsense? That is Google’s profit machine. You are being bid upon like companies in the stock market. Apple just sells products to you. I am happy with that trade.

            As for examples of Google’s malfeasance,here are two that come to mind:



          • Have you ever used iAd?

            I wasn’t asking for an event where Google did wrong (all companies have those; Apple included). I asked about them selling you.

            What they provide is anonymous usage data/patterns. It is far from you.

        • Steven Fisher

          That’s absurd.

          It’s one thing for Apple to allow Google to collect and sell data after a proper disclaimer. It’s something else for Apple to bundle the data up and deliver it to Google to sell.

          This isn’t even the point of my comment:

          Apple stood up for end user rights. Maybe not as well as they should have. Google stood up only for their ability to violate end user rights. Both ultimately mostly won: Apple gets what they want, and aren’t really involved in any truly evil, though by allowing Google Maps in the store they’re not entirely innocent. Google gets to do exactly what it wants, and be as evil as it can be. But they only get to do it to users who use Google Maps, as opposed to Apple’s entire maps-using customer base.

          You disagree? You’re arguing against simple facts.

          • How would Apple bundle data for Google to sell? Latitude is opt-in and is map-based “social networking”. They already “bundled” data by using Google for Maps in the first place so what would be different?

            You should’ve stuck w/ your first direction ’cause the whole “evil” bit was too much. You provided not one fact but say I’m arguing against simple facts. #weird

            My point is simple: Apple wanted X, Google wanted Y. Neither would budge so iOS users went through 3 crappy months of maps.

            Don’t forget Apple has been, for 5 versions, “bundling” this data so apparently your privacy wasn’t too big of a deal. #justthink 😉

    • kibbles

      John, you don’t get it. apple is standing up the privacy of its customers, us the end users. google is standing up for its ability to sell data to its customers – advertisers. since im an end user, and not an advertiser, that is more worthy of my praise.

      are you an advertiser? or are you just being a contrarian?

      • Your mind is absolutely closed. You think Apple is standing up for you when they are actually standing up for power (control) and profit.

        My point still stands. Google and Apple stood up for their bottom lines. You can blind yourself into thinking Apple thought of you when denying Latitude (an opt-in service, not required) in Maps but, as Gruber points out, their decision was profit driven.

        • kibbles

          their decision was value driven, and in apple their values and profit are (non-coincidentally) aligned with mine, the end user. google’s is not, also non-coincidentally. which is why as an end user and not an ad man I praise apple, not google.

          again, what’s your angle — an ad man, or just a contrarian?

          • I’m an end user.

            Read my last comment (not a reply but the top level one). Apple already sold you (iAd) and track your location (without your knowledge). They aren’t as “aligned” as you make it seem.

          • kibbles

            im not aware of apple selling your location data from Maps to advertisers. please cite your data.

            remember, that’s what we’re talking about — google wouldn’t support vector or turn-by-turn w/o access to Maps-users location data, which google could then monetize. apple said “No.”…thus the new Maps.

          • I posted this in another comment but here ya go:

            Google wanted Latitude, not access to location data they already had. Remember…for 5 years they had access to your map data. Latitude wasn’t anything new, per se.

            Back to the original point. Apple isn’t clean in this and they don’t love you as much as you thought (see links above).

  • Techpm

    Google Maps for iOS is already in trouble in Europe for breaking privacy laws as their location collection is not opt in.

  • I’m happy Apple stood up to them. Maps will one day be better than Google maps. Without selling us to the highest bidder.

  • Thanks for letting us know how we should think about it, Jim! I wasn’t sure until you said that.

  • To all of y’all thinking Apple is overly concerned with your privacy, let’s not forget they already tracked you without your knowledge:

    Data-driven services need just that…data. Apple knew that and I’m sure you guys were disgusted with this gross breach of your privacy, right?

    Oh and, not to leave out you “Google sells you” folks, don’t forget Apple has an ad network (iAd) and sells you too:

    BUT…all of a sudden, Apple is the white knight saving you from the big, bad, evil Google ’cause they track your location (like Apple) and sell you to advertisers (like Apple).