3D maps coming to iPhone 5, iOS 6: report

According to a new report, Apple will soon ditch the Google Maps app for an in-house product, which could feature a 3D mode. 

Is Apple planning on ditching the Google Maps iPhone app, shown here, for an in-house mapping product?

Sometime later this year, Apple will (almost definitely) release a new iPhone. And according to a new report, that iPhone will run in-house map software instead of the current Google Maps app. Writing at 9 to 5 Mac, Mark Gurman alleges that the new mapping software, apparently simply dubbed Maps, and set to debut with iOS 6, is a "much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience" than the one provided by Google.

"While Apple has always had full control of the actual iOS Maps application design, the backend has belonged to Google," Gurman writes. "That will change with iOS 6 thanks to their purchases of Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9; acquisitions that Apple has used to create a complete mapping database."

Which brings us to the coolest part about Maps: a 3-D mode developed by C3 and apparently based on "de-classified missile target algorithms." 

9 to 5 Mac has some mock-ups of the mode, and they do look pretty cool, although we'll cop to a little skepticism about the practicality of 3-D maps. We currently use the mapping function on our phones to figure out how to get from the subway to a restaurant, or to help a friend find the correct freeway exit – not to gaze at 3-D renderings of our surrounding environment. (Then again, remember the first time you played with Google Earth? Could Apple recapture that feeling?) 

Anyway, is this 3-D map rumor for real? Hard to say. Apple, unsurprisingly, is remaining mum. But sources do tell John Paczkowski of All Things D that Apple is planning on debuting the Maps app during the keynote address of the WWDC Apple developer's conference. And WWDC is set to open on June 11. So we'll know pretty soon about this 3-D maps, one way or another. 

Follow us on Twitter @venturenaut for more tech news.

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