Why you suddenly have to delete Google Maps on your iPhone

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Forget this year’s hard-hitting headlines pitting Tim Cook against Mark Zuckerberg – it’s arguably now Google as much as Facebook that’s in Apple’s sights. This has serious implications for over a billion iPhone users, as the fight for your data and loyalty has suddenly escalated. This is the background behind recent updates from Apple and Google. And that’s why it’s time to start removing apps including Google Maps.

As Google continues to catch up with Apple on privacy, as evidenced by likely improvements in Android 12, client-side encryption of Android messages and workspace, and the user-friendly “privacy sandbox.” public relations, the reality is that Google is the biggest data in the world. advertising management. Apple is not. Finally, who do you trust?

Location data has been at the heart of the privacy debate for years now. First iOS, then Android gave us options to deny, restrict, and approximate this data from the dozens of apps that would gobble up our data if we left it. Why exactly do all of these trivial games and apps require my precise location, and all that.

But even though we clicked to deny access to all of these apps under “Location Services” in our iPhone settings, we clearly can’t do the same with mapping apps. But while many iPhone users are linked to Google Maps, the alarming comparison of privacy labels between it and Apple’s alternative should cause serious concern.

Obviously, the problem here is that all of the data that Google Maps says it can collect is tied to your personal identity. This is how Google works. Everything is linked to build your profile, your timeline. And while you can fish in Google’s account settings to remove some of this data, most of it doesn’t bother you and why should you need at?

Why do we put up with this? Well, as my colleague Kate O’Flaherty puts it so well in the Cyber ​​talk frankly (the video at the top of this story), “All the Google stuff works great; yes you have to give up your privacy but if you don’t care about your privacy it all works and it all comes together.

Google minimizes these privacy risks by telling me that “Google Maps is designed to protect your information. We provide controls to easily manage your settings and use cutting edge technologies such as differential privacy to protect your data. We continue to make Google Maps the best and most accurate way to navigate and explore the world, providing rich local business information, top-notch search and navigation, and useful features like the Layer COVID and live occupancy information. “

But that’s a tricky line to take, when your entire business model is built around user data and targeted advertising. When pushed on privacy, Google points out that you can stop the collection of data by Maps on your iPhone by selecting Incognito mode, as the data collected by its privacy label is not associated with specific individuals or accounts. .

But this more private mode has a serious impact on the features: no “ride”, location history, sharing, search history or completion suggestions, Assistant restrictions in navigation, no offline maps or ” your places ”. On the bright side, however, Google will stop storing your personalized location history and timeline.

Google Maps has always been sticky for iPhone users – you’ll probably remember the backlash when Apple switched to its own app in 2012. This was partly because users were addicted to Google Maps and partly because the Apple’s first Maps offering was dismal. A perfect example of a half-finished product launched too early.

“But Apple Maps is really good now,” STC’s Davey Winder said in this week’s video episode. “I use CarPlay and have looked at the new Apple Maps updates and it is much better than Google Maps … I am really surprised.”

That said, for many iPhone users, it just wasn’t necessary to switch to Google Maps – it remains the most popular navigation download on the Apple App Store. But now Apple wants those users to think again, announcing a major update for iOS 15.

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“Apple is committed to creating the best map in the world,” he says, “and iOS 15 takes Maps one step further with whole new ways to navigate and explore. Users will experience dramatically improved detail in cities for neighborhoods, shopping districts, elevation and buildings, new road colors and labels, custom landmarks, and a new night mode with a moonlit glow. .

And so, back to this privacy strike that Apple is launching at Google. Beyond the mapping, we saw Apple’s Private Relay quasi-VPN as a strike against Chrome, the App Store’s most popular browser; we also saw Mail Protection as a hit on Gmail, the App Store’s most popular email platform. Obviously, Apple’s popular apps (Maps, Safari, and Mail) are installed by default. But now Apple wants to make sure you use them.

For CarPlay users like Davey, Apple’s updated maps will deliver “a three-dimensional city driving experience with new road details that help users better see and understand important details like road lanes. bend, medians, cycle lanes and crosswalks. Public transport users can more easily find nearby stations and pin their favorite lines. Maps automatically follow with a selected transit route, notifying users when it’s near time to disembark, and passengers can even follow along on Apple Watch. With iOS 15, users can simply hold their iPhone in their hand, and Maps generates a very precise location to provide detailed augmented reality walking routes.

Ignoring the glitzy new features, privacy is the essential differentiator. The idea being that you can have features similar to those of Google and its transparent ecosystem, without compromising your privacy or paying with your data in return. For its part, Google’s business model is driven by data, and while it has embarked on a serious privacy catch-up game with Apple, the motivations and likely end result are very different.

Google is now at a stalemate with some of its major iOS apps. Its privacy labels are a nightmare compared to its peers. Too much data collected, all linked to individual identities. And Apple is clearly looking to shore up the 2021 privacy backlash, hammering home the message. Google continues to promote its own privacy messaging, and Android 12 will offer improvements for its own users, but as I’ve commented before regarding these issues—just follow the money.

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The reality is that if you value your privacy, you have to be careful about the apps you install and the services you use. And with improvements to Apple Maps, now is the time to cut Google off the rich data set derived from your map searches and navigation. Similarly you should stick with Safari and Apple Mail, or even more private alternatives like ProtonMail and DuckDuckGo.

If all of us, all of you, don’t think so much about your app and service decisions, then we’re sending the message that we don’t mind being the product, that our data is sort of free. everything, that we are fine so little changes. And, even worse, even though we paid extra for a more secure and private iPhone, we don’t mind compromising that with the data we give away freely. Don’t do that.

As much as you can love Google Maps, these striking data collection revelations have come as Apple Maps continues to level the playing field, which makes it possible to consider removing the app, at least shutting down that part of Google’s data collection machine.


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