A number of iOS apps are suddenly pulling support for the Apple Watch, and the latest to have its Watch app suddenly disappear is Google Maps. While one might see this as a sign that a major player has abandoned development of an Apple Watch companion for one of the most-used apps on the App Store (currently sitting at #9 on the free charts), Google says support will be coming back later…
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It’s not exactly clear why Google removed support for the Apple Watch with the latest version of Google Maps, but as someone who used the app once or twice, I’m not surprised. Rather than building a full smartwatch mapping app, Maps instead simply supported quick navigation to a couple pre-set locations. Really, that wasn’t all that useful to me — and I bet user metrics showed the same, especially with the Apple Maps app providing better functionality.
And I’d bet that’s probably what’s going on here. One of the main fallbacks to using the Google Maps app (rather than the default Apple Maps app) was that Siri — which is a fundamental function to the Apple Watch — didn’t work with it at all. Having Siri get you turn-by-turn directions to anywhere you need with a Siri command makes that app much more useful, and Google Maps simply couldn’t compete.
Be sure to head over to 9to5Mac and read Zac’s thoughts on the issue.
Google Maps is the latest app to remove Apple Watch support without offering an explanation. You can guess that lack of engagement is to blame, and in Google’s defense it is understandably difficult to make a decent Apple Watch app for something as complex as a map. Google Maps for Apple Watch instead focused on quick access to certain places like home and work that Apple Maps later adopted.
A statement that was provided to CNET on the issue says that while, yes, Google “removed Apple Watch support from our latest iOS release,” the company still expects to “support it again in the future.” If Google didn’t just let the app live on while the next version is in development, I’d venture to guess that someone higher up wasn’t happy with its core functionality and sent the team back to the drawing board. Hopefully the app will be a bit more useful when it re-launches.