Yes…you read this post’s title correctly. The iPhone SDK lacks the basic mapping API required by applications developers hoping to tie the mobile experience to a geo-specific location (GPS). The only GPS mapping function provided by the iPhone SDK is to send a URL to the iPhone’s built-in Google map application and to let Google handle the rest.
Curiously the iPhone SDK does provide a basic location service API providing the user’s location using cell signal triangulation, but without a map, this information is all-but-useless.
At first glance you might say, “that makes sense as the iPhone doesn’t have GPS built-in because it would have raised the price of an already expensive phone.”
Point taken but all this leaves me to believe that Apple’s take on the iPhone is too media focused and lacks clear understanding of the power provided by location-awareness. That’s great news for the upcoming GPS-enabled Android phones. They’ll have time to widely proliferate before the soon-to-be almost 10M iPhones out there will be replaced with GPS-enabled iPhones.
Imagine if Android had lacked the MapActivity API…?!? From my count, 90% of the most interesting Android Challenge entries would never exist. Without Android’s MapActivity API, we would be left with a few accelerometer-based games and non-SMS messaging apps.
This is great news for Google and perhaps that’s the point. Google wrote the iPhone’s map application and was either not given incentive to make expose its iPhone map through an API or perhaps decided it was smart to keep the iPhone limited in this crucial manner. OK…maybe Apple has a bigger plan as it always does. Maybe Apple is preparing to launch its own mapping application or perhaps AT&T didn’t want Apple to expose such location-based apps because AT&T has its own GPS agenda.