Google pledges to dump Maps redirect on Windows Phone
Late last week, Gizmodo reported that Google was blocking Windows Phone users from using Maps on IE, instead sending them directly to its search homepage. "The mobile Web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari," a Google spokesperson said. "However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web."
Microsoft cried foul, noting that Google Maps runs seamlessly on Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop. "Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 use the same rendering engine," a Microsoft spokesperson said. Other observers noted that the mobile version of Mozilla's Firefox browser also does not run WebKit but is nevertheless capable of rendering Google Maps, with no redirect in place.
Over the weekend, Google reversed course. "We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users," a spokesperson said. "In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience, and that's why there is no redirect for those users.
"Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience, and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users."
The Windows Phone maps flap is the latest in a series of mobile skirmishes pitting Microsoft against Google. Late last year, Google announced plans to halt consumer support for the Exchange ActiveSync protocol, forcing Windows Phone device owners to sync their personal Gmail contacts and calendar data via the IMAP protocol. Last week, a Microsoft legal representative alleged Google is deliberately stifling Microsoft's efforts to build a full-featured YouTube video application optimized for Windows Phone by refusing to license the necessary coding information.
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