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Google, Apple Map Out Battle Lines

A screenshot provided by Google shows the Google Maps Navigation app for Android phones.
A screenshot provided by Google shows the Google Maps Navigation app for Android phones.
Two U.S. technology innovators are waging a new battle over the maps that people throughout the world access on their smartphones and other computing devices.

For several years, consumers using the hand-held iPhones and iPad tablets sold by the Apple consumer products company have viewed maps supplied by one of the leading search engine companies, Google.

But now that arrangement is about to end, as Apple gets set to unveil its own proprietary mapping system and abandons use of Google's maps. In developing its own maps, Apple is hoping to capture a large share of the millions of dollars in revenue from advertising that accompanies the maps when users look up a vacation spot they might be interested in or search for directions in a city they are visiting.

Apple, long noted for its corporate secrecy, has not divulged its mapping plans, but U.S. technology publications say it is likely to unveil them next week at a trade convention.

Meanwhile, Google announced plans Wednesday for improvement of its maps, which will still be widely available on devices other than Apple's, such as Google's Android operating system. Google said mobile technology users will now be able to access its maps offline, in places where they may not have an Internet connection, such as underground or on an airplane.

In addition, Google also unveiled upgrades to its Street View system, showing more views of areas where cars cannot be driven, and more detailed three-dimensional aerial looks at spots around the world.

Trade publications say that Apple's maps are also likely to give users 3-D looks developed by the defense contractor Saab it acquired last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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