OPINION: Google’s block of Maps on Windows Phone isn’t really a block

By on


Image: activefree/Flickr (Creative Commons).

When was the last time you used a web-app on your phone more than once? Hmm, yeah, I can’t remember a time either, maybe apart from a link to a few blogs. Which is why the usual shit-storm that arises with any change to anything is pointless, especially in the case of Google Maps on Windows Phone. If you own a Windows Phone, Google Maps is available to you, and will always be available to you in some way, even in the form of native apps, despite Google’s decision to discontinue support for a webapp that was never, ever, even supported.

Now, one of the things few people understand it that just because it was available, doesn’t mean Google ‘supported’ it. There was a version of Google Maps available, but really, it was a dumbphone implementation designed, as are a few Google services on Windows Phone, for Windows Mobile. If the iOS web-app is bad, then the Windows Phone web-app was horrible. I’ve used it. Anybody who actually used it for more than a day is lying or stupid, because it was practically unusable for anything but a quick look-up of an address.

So basically, what I’m trying to say is that Google was only offering it because they could. It wasn’t good, and it wasn’t even given any attention by Google. The company didn’t specifically say ‘let’s make a Windows Phone web-app’. They made something for an older generation of phones which, shock horror, worked on a new phone, the Windows Phone.

But even though Google Maps is ‘blocked’ on Windows Phone, how can I, some stupid technology blogger, be saying that you can still access it. Well, it’s easy. Grab your Windows Phone, go to the Marketplace or Store, depending on whether you have WP7 or 8, and search for Google Maps. There: tens of great, native alternatives that are better than that shitty webpage that Google made for dumbphones, apart from those which are just links to that web-app.

Yes, Google could waste their money to make a webapp or native app that is on-par with their iOS and Android offerings, but they don’t have to. Because their API already has made it possible for a dozen great Google Maps apps to be available on Windows Phone, gMaps being the best one I’ve seen. That’s the fun of an API – when the creator doesn’t want to make something, other people will.

Now, if they block Google+ or YouTube access in the browser, then, and only then, will it be a different story.