Google Inc. (GOOG) added Street View to its maps feature for mobile browsers, enhancing the navigation service available to iPhone users who don’t have the tool built in to their handsets.
Users of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone can get quick access to Street View, which offers panoramic images of locations, by saving a Web bookmark to the home screen of the phone, Mountain View, California-based Google said on a blog post.
“Starting today, use Street View on your mobile browser to check out a new shop across town or get a feel for the ambiance at a restaurant before you arrive,” Google said on the blog.
Apple’s decision to build its own navigation application reflects a widening rift with Google, which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone debuted in 2007. While Apple’s new software adds features such as turn-by-turn navigation, it is widely faulted for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and a lack of public transit directions.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized last week for the iPhone mapping software, vowing to improve the feature. In the meantime, he encouraged customers to download mapping applications such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, Waze and MapQuest from the company’s App Store. He said users also could use the iPhone’s Internet browser to use Google’s mapping application.
“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Cook said in a letter posted Sept. 28 on Apple’s website. “The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get.”
Apple’s mapping application was released as part of the new iOS 6 software, which runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Even as Apple’s maps were criticized, the company sold a record 5 million iPhones during the handset’s debut weekend. Apple also said that the software with its new mapping feature was being used on more than 100 million mobile devices.
Google has been building out its online mapping software since 2005, using cars and satellites to accumulate data that helps improve its accuracy and reliability.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Sept. 25 that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps. “It would have been better if they had kept ours,” Schmidt said at a press event in Tokyo. “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”
Nate Tyler, a spokesman for Google, didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the company plans to make a Google Maps app for Apple devices.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fell less than 1 percent to $666.80 at the close in New York, while Google rose less 1 percent to $768.05.
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