While Apple Waits, Google Is Busy Making Awesome Underwater Maps of the Great Barrier Reef

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 26 2012 10:28 AM

While Apple Waits, Google Is Busy Making Awesome Underwater Maps of the Great Barrier Reef

Google Street View map of Great Barrier Reef
While Apple is struggling to properly map Brooklyn, Google has moved on to Street View maps of the Great Barrier Reef.

Screenshot / Google Maps

The backlash over deficiencies and inaccuracies in Apple's new maps app has Apple squirming and iPhone users yearning for the day when Google unveils its own third-party maps app for Apple's mobile operating system. That day is coming, eventually, according to The Verge and the New York Times' Bits blog. The Verge reports that Google is "scrambling" to build such an app, but was caught off guard by Apple's decision in June to drop Google maps from its native apps package. The Times suggests it may be taking Google some extra time because it wants to include 3-D imagery comparable to Apple's.

This must all be of great amusement to Google's Android team—especially since Google's own mobile maps have been getting better and better while Apple users wait. In July the company rolled out 10,000 indoor maps of landmarks like San Francisco's de Young Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the National Zoo. TechCrunch reports that the indoor maps are coming to France next.

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And on Tuesday, Google unveiled 25 new "underwater Street View" panoramas, with gorgeous pictures of sea turtles and manta rays cruising the Great Barrier Reef, among other submarine hotspots. The images come via a partnership with the Catlin Seaview Survey. The goal, a Google Oceans manager tells BoingBoing, is to make Google maps as comprehensive as possible by extending their reach underwater. A commenter on a YouTube video featuring the underwater maps of the Great Barrier Reef quips, "There are iOS6 Maps users down there looking for their houses."

I asked Google whether its forays into the deep blue sea help explain why it's taking so long for it to come out with the iOS6 maps app. A spokesperson didn't bite, offering only a canned statement: "Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."

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Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.