iPhone Mystery: Why did Apple kill Google’s app?

July 24, 2009

Google prides itself on its unique culture of innovation and product design.

But when it comes to Google products for the iPhone, it’s Apple that calls the shots.

At least that’s how it appeared this week following a surprisingly candid blog post from a Google product manager introducing Latitude for the iPhone – Google’s product that allows people to see the locations of their friends on a map.

Instead of releasing Latitude as an iPhone app, or incorporating the Latitude functionality into the iPhone’s existing Maps application, Google introduced Latitude as a browser-based service that can only be used within the iPhone’s Safari Web browser.

That’s a strange move, since it foregoes the convenience and ease-of-use that have made iPhone’s native apps so popular.

In fact, Google said that it did create a stand-alone Latitude app but pulled the plug on it at Apple’s behest.

“We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users,” wrote Mat Balez, Google mobile team product manager.

“After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles,” he wrote.

The decision did not sit well with techies, who blasted the decision on the Google blog.

“This is almost useless and I was sooo looking forward to it,” wrote one commenter about Latitude for the iPhone.

“Is it just me or is Apple acting like the evil Microsoft by all of this tight control and rigidity?” wrote another.

What does Apple have to say about the whole thing? The company did not return calls for comment.

2 comments

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Seems to me that this should just be rolled into the default Maps program on the iPhone anyway, no point in a 2nd app. So Google should get Apple the info they need to update that program and call it good.

““Is it just me or is Apple acting like the evil Microsoft by all of this tight control and rigidity?” wrote another.”

So someone has finally noticed? Apple has been a rigidly controlling company from the get-go. Tight controls on hardware, software, and just about everything else to do with Apple have kept their market share for computers in the niche category since their inception. It is M$ that has been flexible to a fault, making it much less secure but allowing more hardware and software flexibility in systems, thus making them cheaper.
In the handheld market, however, this rigidity is a good thing, making their iphone less likely to be destroyed by a third party app.