In a bid to blunt criticism over the quality of its iOS 6 maps app, Apple is reportedly hiring workers who helped design Google Maps.
“Using recruiters, Apple is pursuing a strategy of luring away Google Maps employees who helped develop the search giant’s product,” TechCrunch reported Sept. 23, citing an unnamed source “with connections on both teams.”
Apple’s offer has attracted workers anxious to help build a wholly new platform, TechCrunch added, rather than participate in the incremental updates that apparently constitute the majority of Google Maps’ behind-the-scenes work.
The iOS 6 native maps app dumped Google Maps, long the foundation of iOS mapping, in favor of proprietary software developed by Apple. While the native app boasts some slick features, including voice navigation and 3D “flyovers,” iOS 6 users quickly began complaining about inaccurate road directions, bridges and notable landmarks “melting” in satellite view, and a handful of other quirks.
Even before the controversy over iOS 6 maps erupted late last week, Apple had posted several job postings on its Website for iOS software engineers with a maps specialty. “As an engineer on the Maps team, your responsibilities will be working with among others rendering of 3D flyover models, mesh generation of terrain, road rendering,” read one such posting. “You will be using c++, advanced shader techniques and will be working hard to get the most out of different hardware platforms.”
The question is whether the mapping controversy will overshadow the rollout of iOS 6. So far, the answer seems to be “no”: Apple reported Sept. 24 that some 100 million iOS users had downloaded the latest version of the mobile operating system. That comes on top of reports that the iPhone 5, Apple’s latest smartphone and the flagship for iOS 6, sold more than 5 million units in its first weekend in release.
Meanwhile, iOS hacker Ryan Petrich has posted a YouTube video demonstrating how he made Google-powered maps work on iOS 6. “Still crashy and cannot be distributed to the public yet, but it works,” read the note accompanying the clip.
Whether Google releases a Maps app for Apple’s App Store, just like it did for YouTube, remains to be seen. If it does, and Apple approves it, another front could open in the competition between the two giants, this one for the attention of iOS maps users.