Windows Phone users to get their broken Google Maps web experience back

Yesterday it seems that every single Windows Phone user was over at WPCentral lamenting the loss of the Google Maps web app for Windows Phone. It seems that Google made a change that redirected users with a Windows Phone browser UA string to Google search page instead of the Google Maps page they were expecting.

Google later chimed in and said that Google Maps on the mobile site was designed for webkit browsers, which IE on Windows Phone is not. Questions were raised about why it used to work, why it stopped working, and why Google was the devil. Turns out that a big fuss was made over a relatively minor (minor to Google anyways) product change. Google has reverted things back the way they were, and delivered this statement to The Next Web.

We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users.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 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.

A lot of Windows Phone fans are going to cry foul, and claim that their voices changed the world and moved the mountain that is Google, but even a few admitted Windows fans came to the very same conclusion that it was done because the experience, well, it sucked. 

The simple fact is that smart companies are going to build web apps that work well for Android and iOS because that's the vast majority of the mobile market. If that means building for webkit based browsers, then people on the fringe of the market won't be part of it. Google has decided to give Windows Phone users back the poor experience they want, but if future updates incorporate webkit-only features, you can bet Google will stop supporting IE once again. It's a decision about money, not about hate for Microsoft. 

Source: The Next Web

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.