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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has announced upgrades to its mobile mapping service as it gets ready to take on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the navigation business. With the upgrades, Google has improved its listings for public transportation in almost 500 cities around the world, including suggested routes and departure times at more than 1 million stations. That’s about 50 percent more than a year ago. Google will also provide indoor directions at some stations, according to the Associated Press.
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In a clear attack at Apple, though, Google is only launching the changes on devices running on its own Android operating software. While it does eventually plan to make the upgrades available on Apple and other platforms, Google did not elaborate on when that may happen.
Google said the new technology will let users focus on exclusive directions for specific transportation options. “I am very confident these are the best transit maps available,” said Brian McClendon, the vice president of engineering for Google’s maps. “It’s not something you can just go out and buy on the street.”
McClendon said interest in public transit was even bigger than driving directions in major cities such as London, Tokyo, Sydney, and New York.
In June, Apple had announced it would launch its own in-house mapping system along with its new mobile operating system, iOS 6, and get rid of Google Maps as a default option on its iPhones and iPads. Google, which had been part of the iPhone since the device first launched in 2007, was clearly not impressed and has been working on several upgrades over the last few months. The loss of local user data on Apple devices is a big blow for Google, whose business heavily depends on targeted advertising.
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