A Reminder: The Web Exists

Lost in the last week’s reporting around the new Apple Maps app in iOS 6 has been one salient fact: Google Maps continues to be available to all iOS users at maps.google.com. It’s the same Google Maps that iOS users have grown to know and love, with the exception of Street View. And it even prompts for “installation” to the home screen, so access is quick and easy:

Image by CNET

The tech press, which presumably exists to serve its audience, has largely ignored the existence of maps.google.com, instead opting to focus on the corporate drama behind Apple’s decision to dump Google’s maps and roll their own solution. Take this piece from the NY Times, which reports that a Google-made Maps app is still months away from completion. A reader of the story would be left dejected: Google Maps is months away, and still has to be approved by Apple for inclusion in the App Store.

But that’s simply not the case – Google Maps is available to all iOS users right now at maps.google.com. And because it’s just a web site, it’s available to any device that has a web browser. In this way the tech press is similar to the political press, valuing conflict and process over long-standing realities. The end result is sadly the same: the public loses out.

John Gruber, the Rush Limbaugh of Apple punditry, similarly neglects to mention the alternative of maps.google.com on Daring Fireball. He mentions the Maps issue in four separate posts:

  1. A link to an article on how iOS 6 Maps is a huge improvement in China.
  2. A link to an article on Counternotions that rebuts the criticisms.
  3. A link to the Amazing iOS 6 Maps Tumblr.
  4. A link to a process article on the prospects for a Google Maps app.

While Gruber’s audience is the devoted Apple faithful, the lack of a mention of maps.google.com is a clear disservice to his readership.

The larger problem here is a general lack of respect for Web-based solutions. Apple’s push for native apps on iOS has severely hurt the Web. Users become paralyzed, thinking that if there’s no solution available on the App Store, it must not exist. Startups like Lift and Simple require a native iOS app to use their Web-based services. That’s a trend that needs to be reversed.

We can’t let ourselves forget about the Web.

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