Can Apple Really Keep Google Maps Out of iOS?

How low can Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stoop in its smartphone platform battle with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)? According to a report in the U.K.’s The Guardian, while Google is said to be working on creating a standalone maps program for the iOS App Store for release by this year’s end, sources in the search company say they are “not optimistic” of Apple ever approving it.

Apple got rid of Google Maps as a native app from its mobile operating system with the September release of its iOS 6. However, Apple’s replacement in-house navigation app was widely criticized by technology experts and users for missing or wrong details and the lack of Street View data. Eventually, chief executive Tim Cook was forced to issue an official apology for the program along with the promise that improvements were on their way and suggestions for alternatives in the interim.

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One reasoning given by the sources was that none of the mapping alternatives recommended by Apple use the Google Maps API. At the moment, all an iOS user can do is create a homepage shortcut to the Google Maps website in Apple’s Safari browser.

While according to The Guardian sources Apple was likely to reject Google’s “superior product,” a report in CNET said these fears may be overstated. Almost every developer is worried about possible rejection by Apple because of the iPhone maker’s unclear rules of app approval, but Google may be too important to ignore. For one, Cook named Google Maps on Safari as one of the suggested alternatives in his apology letter, along with Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) program and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing. In addition, such a move was likely to raise anti-competition concerns by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and other overseers.

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