Last month, at the WWDC 2012, Apple Maps booted out Google Maps as the default maps application in iOS 6. Apple’s own mapping solution features real-time traffic updates, turn-by-turn navigation, Yelp integration, vector graphics, and 3D flyovers. Ever since that announcement, Apple has released 2 beta versions of iOS 6 to the developers with slight improvements to the Maps app, but it is still far from being perfect.
Apple’s foray into Maps clearly showed the importance of owning a mapping solution, including the huge business listing databases. And the recent acquisition of UpNext, a 3D mapping startup by Amazon, only confirms how the major tech companies value mapping data.
Apple Maps for Macs
Our developer friend, Cody Cooper has now stumbled upon an interesting code dump in iOS 6 maps application which hints at the possibility of Apple Maps coming to Macs in the near future.
During his routine investigation of Maps app, Cody found some interesting bits in the file altitude_manifest.xml
In this XML file, there is a reference to a set of Intel based graphics chipsets for which certain features like Shading are disabled.
Cody says that older Intel chipsets are known to not support shading very well, and that’s probably why Apple wants to disable that feature on these Macs or will be software rendered. It is interesting to note that there is no reference to ATI Radeon chipsets in the list above. Though we don’t know the exact reason, it is probably because they are proper graphics cards that can support shaders.
This should almost confirm that Apple Maps is coming to iMacs & Macbooks. I cannot think of any other reason for Apple to have references to Intel chipsets in their Maps app. Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion final version is due this month. Will we see Apple Maps app along with Mountain Lion release? Let’s wait and watch.
Update: As few comments point out, the code might very well be related to iPhone simulator and ensure proper rendering of Maps app on the simulator.