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Offline Mapping and More Coming to Google Maps

Get ready for the local Internet wars to heat up significantly as Apple prepares to move away from Google Maps and go to their own ‘in house’ maps creation that is the result of a combining of several recent map related acquisitions.

Rather than being viewed as just sitting on their hands while this significant piece of business walks, Google announced today some changes to the Google Maps offering.

As reported by Mashable

Offline mapping for Android phones, Street View for nature trails and 3D Google Earth maps are all improvements coming to Google Maps in the near future.

The three new features were unveiled by company executives at a press event at the company’s San Francisco offices.

Of the three the offline mapping might be the most interesting in that if you find yourself somewhere where there is no WiFi or xG connection you can still have your map to guide you.

Offline mapping will become a part of Google’s “own global base map” and offer hi-res navigation without needing a WiFI or 3G or 4G connection. To use the feature, users will have to select the area they plan to visit before going offline, then download the map to their device.

The familiar GPS tracking blue dot will still be there to help with navigation.

The other features like Street View for places other than streets and and the 3D mapping are neat but this really isn’t about the features. This is about more battle lines being drawn between Mountain View and Cupertino, CA. For a while the folks at Apple loved Google Maps. Enter Android and all bets appear to be off for the future.

Sure, Google will lose a lot of valuable data by not being the map provider for Apple but what about Apple’s move? The company that once had a laser focus on creating the absolute best products (hardware) that anyone would want to use, is now getting into areas that are, well, not very Apple-like.

If Apple applies their usual standards of excellence to this endeavor it’s not likely that their resulting product will be bad. It just may not be as robust as Google Maps and when you scrap something that works (it is one of the most popular apps in the Apple app ecosystem) for something that, while it may be good, is simply a big change for users. Truth be told, tech geeks, especially the Apple set, are not very keen on changing the singular focus that has made Apple what it is.

In addition, maps just are not easy. Not only is there the map itself but also the layered data that needs to be there to make the map useful for the on-the-go set. Is this really where Apple should be playing? Of course, many would argue that their Siri offering is one of their huge successes when relied on non-home grown talent to create a competitive advantage in the mobile space.

How do you think this map battle will end? Will Google stay on top of the heap or will Apple move further into Google’s territory in the same way they feel that Google on theirs with Android?

So many questions and so very few answers. This will be interesting to watch for sure. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: Here is a video from Google that shows the 3D mapping. I thought it was neat but this makes it look pretty cool.