Apple Teases Its Own Mapping Solution In iPhoto For iOS

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Google Maps on iPad

A very interesting factoid has been revealed in the newly-released iPhoto for iOS: Apple isn’t using Google Maps. More specifically, Apple is using its own mapping technology to provide map tiles in its brand new photo editing app.

There have been rumors for many months saying that Apple is working on proprietary mapping technology to replace Google Maps, and it looks like the rumors are true.

Apple has acquired multiple mapping companies, including PlaceBase in 2009 and Poly9 the following year. Last year, Apple bought C3 Technologies, a company that was specializing in 3D maps at the time. Apple also admitted last year that it was collecting user data for an unannounced “traffic service.”

Originally spotted by Stephen Hackett, today’s iPhoto for iOS app does not use Google Maps to provide map tiles for geotagged photos. He demonstrates the difference by comparing the tile layout for the same location on Google Maps and iPhoto for iOS:

The same location displayed in iPhoto for iOS and Google Maps

The iPhoto location is displayed incorrectly by Apple in this instance, as the mapping technology is clearly still in the testing stages. In case you were wondering, iPhoto for Mac still uses Google Maps.

The Next Web did a little digging and found that the iPhoto for iOS app’s map data is getting pulled from Apple’s private servers. Interesting.

Google’s Eric Schmidt revealed during the D9 conference last year that Apple had renewed its Maps deal with the search giant for 2011. Whether or not Apple renewed it again, or plans to do so, remains to be seen. In fact, 9to5Mac has heard that Apple intentionally hasn’t updated its deal with Google for 2013. The two companies have been at odds for some time, so it’s no surprise that Apple wants to part ways.

Would Apple debut a new mapping platform with the next iPhone? Possibly. There’s also the chance that the technology would be rolled out silently to existing devices at the end of this year or in early-2013, but only time will tell. Either way, Google Maps won’t be around for long.

Update: John Gruber says Apple is still using Google Maps, but opinions remain split. Whatever the case, it looks like Apple is using its own mapping voodoo in iPhoto for iOS.

[teaser-top]Will Google Maps be kicked to the curb?[/teaser-top]