Apple is missing a big feature that has been baked into Android for a while now: Turn-by-turn directions.One reason Apple doesn’t have turn-by-turn is that it doesn’t own its own maps database, according to Dr. Ed Lu, a former astronaut who did data gathering for Google on its maps and Google Earth products, as well as street view and other imaging. He’s now working on a 3D mapping company, Hover.
Lu said that Google couldn’t include turn-by-turn directions on Android phones until it had control of its own mapping database. The companies that provide databases wouldn’t let Google do it, because it was a threat to their business.
Likewise, when Apple wanted to get access to the data to do its own thing with maps, Google was equally difficult.
Lu cautioned that he wasn’t directly involved in conversations between Apple and Google, and his information was “third hand,” but he said Apple’s relationship with Google deteriorated over what Apple wanted to do with Google maps. He wouldn’t provide more details on what Apple wanted to do.
Regardless, he said it led to what we have today, which is Apple reportedly prepared to launch its own maps. If Apple has its own database powering its new maps, then it might offer turn-by-turn directions, thus eliminating one big Android advantage.