Google removes Maps redirect on Windows Phone
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has made good on its promise to eliminate a redirect preventing Windows Phone device owners from accessing the Google Maps website via Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Internet Explorer browser.
Late last week, Gizmodo reported that Google was blocking Windows Phone users from using Maps on IE, instead sending them to its Google.com homepage. Google quietly disabled the redirect Wednesday, and Windows Phone users may now once again access Google Maps in IE per usual.
Google initially chalked up the Maps redirect to issues with Internet Explorer: "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. Other observers pointed out 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.
Google quickly 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."
The Google Maps redirect 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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