Jun 11 AT 8:54 AM Dustin Earley 48 Comments

According to recent rumor reports from all around the web, Apple will be ditching Google Maps as their default mapping application, and providing their own Open Street Map powered solution. The question of “what does this mean” for Apple is certainly intriguing. (What kinds of new technology will be used? Will third-party developers be using Apple’s maps? Will iOS and OSX powered devices be the only ones to see Apple’s new maps?) But the question of “what does this mean” for Google and Android is almost more interesting. It could bring big changes to the way Google handles cross-platform applications.

Google has never been one to turn down an opportunity to work with Apple. Plenty of Google products have crossed platform lines in the past. However, now that both companies are creating dueling products, in more than one arena, you have to wonder. How will Google handle it?

Will maps be the app that pushes Google to toss iOS users aside, or will it be the final shove into a new era of full-featured Google apps on iOS devices?

Maps

If Apple drops Google maps in favor of their own mapping service, two questions come to mind: Will Google create their own third-party map application for iOS devices, and if they do, will they intentionally hold back features in order to drive users to Android?

Google would be foolish to waste this opportunity. Not only would they have more control over their maps app on iOS than they currently do, but they’d still make a boat-load of money on advertising. As far as holding back features goes, there’s no way Google would not give iOS users a reason to switch to Android. That reason would most likely be navigation. If they held back much more than that, the app would be sub-par, and a waste of time on Google’s part.

Consumer choice is a great thing, and thanks to the various laws that help bolster consumer choice and stop anti-competitive actions from big companies like Apple, Google should have no problem releasing a maps app for iOS. And I have a good feeling they will.

Drive

Does Apple have a product that competes with Google Drive? Yes and no. While Google drive can be seen as a Dropbox and iCloud competitor in some ways, it’s really just Google Docs. Which means iWork and iCloud would have to be mashed together, and reworked to truly compete with Drive. So will Google totally embrace iOS with Drive?

The fact that a Drive app for iOS is coming soon has already been revealed. To answer the question of whether or not Google will hold back features in the iOS Drive app comes down to one thing: is there anything compelling enough in Drive to push iOS users to Android? In my mind, the answer to that question is no.

Unlike with maps, Drive does have a decent amount of competition. No one single solution may be as full-featured as Drive, but other similar apps do have their own special advantages over Drive. If Google doesn’t release a full fledged Drive app for iOS users, most will just use something else.

I’d be shocked if when Google releases a Drive app for iOS, it’s missing features.

Music

Google Music is awesome. Thanks to Google Music, I’ve been able to upload my entire music collection, straight from iTunes, and listen to it anywhere I go. On my phone, someone else’s computer, really anywhere with web access. Would Google ever be crazy enough to bring a full featured Google Music client to iOS?

To answer that question, we first have to take a look at what kind of features Google could hold back, or rather, wouldn’t want to include.

When you press the Google Play button in Google Music, you’re taken directly to the Google Play store, where you can buy more music. This would not be possible on iOS. For multiple reasons. I’m not incredibly well versed in iOS in-app purchase guidelines, but I believe Google wouldn’t even be allowed to offer a link to visit the Google Music store online. Because Apple wouldn’t get a cut of the sales. Or if they did offer a link to the Google Music store online, they’d be losing money to their biggest competitor.

Theoretically, if Google were to release a Google Music app on iOS, it would be a way to access your Google Music account’s music. That’s it. Yes, it would push more iOS users to ditch iTunes, and buy their music from Google on the web, and sure, Google could find some way to insert ads and make some cash there, but would it be enough?

If Google wants to make some serious cash with Google Music, it just may be. But remember, you can sync your iTunes music to your Google Music account. And you don’t have to pay any subscription fees like with iTunes Match. How many people do you think would simply buy their music from iTunes, and just use Google Music as an online storage locker?

There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to releasing a Google Music app on iOS, including the fact that its pretty damn great, and Google might want to keep that to themselves. I wouldn’t expect to see a Google Music client on iOS anytime soon, but you never know.

Chrome

Chrome has never really been any better on one platform or another. It’s always been Google’s vessel to the web as we know it. As far as Google products go, Chrome is the one they should be most proud of. It’s amazing in the best ways possible, and the same rings true for the Android version that was released a short time ago. Will iOS users ever get to bask in the sweet glory of the best mobile web browser ever created?

Google has never had a more personal stake in Chrome than it does now. In the past year, Chrome OS has blossomed into a much more serious contender in the desktop/laptop war. The hardware on which Chrome OS runs has made a couple changes now, and the the OS itself has done nothing but consistently improve. And then there’s Chrome for Android.

I know it may sound like I’m over exaggerating here, but even if you payed me cash money, every single day, to use the stock browser on my Galaxy Nexus instead of Chrome, I wouldn’t do it. It really is that good. So why would Google ever want to share it with Apple and iOS?

Chrome has always been totally independent of Android. And it still remains that way. If Google were to say, “from JellyBean forward, Chrome will be the default web-browser on Android,” things may be different. But I still don’t know if I see that happening quite yet. With they way Chrome has worked in the past, I can’t imagine Google holding back.

Google would love to steal Safari Mobile’s market share right out from under Apple, and Chrome for iOS would be the perfect solution. Especially if it was just a full-featured as the Android version is. The big advantage of Chrome on Android over iOS? On Android you can set it as the default browser. Everything you do with the web will be done through Chrome if you want it that way.

On iOS, not so much. And by the 50th time a wishy-washy iOS user opens a link in twitter and it pops up in Safari, and not Chrome, they just might consider a fancy new Nexus as their next device.

Bring on Chrome for iOS, it’s only a matter of time now.

Wrap up

Google may have a decent portfolio of apps available on both Android and iOS right now. But some of their best apps and services, like Maps, Music, Drive and Chrome, have yet to cross platform lines.

I’ve done more than my fair share of speculating above, so now it’s your turn. How do you think Google will handle their apps and services outside of Android? Will they embrace iOS, and give it their best shot? Or will nothing change? And while we’re at it, what about other platforms? I can’t imagine Google staying up at night, mulling over whether or not to release a Drive app on Windows Phone, but maybe they are. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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