Users are blaming Google for the lack of Contacts integration in the new Maps App

“It looks nice but it doesn’t connect with Contacts. That’s a huge flaw. I’m surprised that was overlooked.”

“Does Google Maps not work with Contacts anymore?! If so, this is a MAJOR shortcoming that should be mentioned in reviews.”

“I really like Google maps and the interface on the iPhone, but as several people have pointed out in their reviews on iTunes Store, there is no native link to contacts”

This is a selection of the “most recommended” comments on the New York Times’ article about the new iOS Google Maps app. What does it tell us? That outside of tech circles, people care about OS-level integration (even if they don’t know it), and many people blame Google for not implementing it.

This is a problem. From Apple’s perspective it isn’t- Google gets blamed for a sub-par product, and Apple’s offering retains exclusivity over a core feature. But how long can this go on? It’s not too difficult to imagine that a future version of the Chrome app will intercept map links and forward the user to Google Maps. How long before we get a Google Contacts app that serves no purpose other than forwarding web and maps links to Google products? Would Apple even approve such an app? If so, when can I expect my Yahoo Contacts app to sit alongside my Bing Contacts app in my folder of “useless apps I am forced to use if I want to use other apps I like”?

The solution seems simple- integrate Android-like app preferences into iOS. This isn’t as bad as people make it out to be for one main reason- you won’t see this screen unless you have installed two map apps. If you never download Google Maps, you’ll never be asked to choose Apple Maps. However, if you have, it stands to reason that you might be interested in using it through other methods than from the home screen.

But why would Apple ever add such a feature? They have no motivation to, while users are blaming app developers for a lack of OS integration- they get none of the blame and all of the benefit. But Google Maps might finally be the straw to break the camel’s back- it only took seven hours for it to become the most popular free app in the App Store. The question remains: how can we make it clear to users that Apple is the barrier to their app integration happiness, and not perceived laziness on the part of developers?

  • http://twitter.com/Glich Glich

    google voice app can see my contacts so i don’t think this is an APPLE thing..

  • http://www.facebook.com/Michael.James.Riley Michael James Riley

    You can access the user’s contacts as an iOS developer:

    http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/ContactData/Conceptual/AddressBookProgrammingGuideforiPhone/Introduction.html

    It seems to me that the decision must have been Google’s to forgo implementing this, maybe they just have it planned for a future update.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com Jason Kincaid

    Interesting to see the reactions, though it sounds like the Contacts issue is actually Google’s decision/omission. My hunch is that when people can’t find a way to make Mail.app/Browser links direct to Google Maps the blame may go the other way (especially if so many people complain that it starts making the news).