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.

  • I guess when your app catalog is as small as theirs every one counts more. I'd cry if I were a WP user and one of about 5 good apps I had were gone too
  • Lightyear420: you obviously don't know what you are talking about. Do you even have a windows phone? I just got a Samsung Ativ S windows phone 8 (physically similar to galaxy s3). It has all the apps I could want including several 3rd party google map clients, but also every major app you could want; Facebook, twitter, Flickr, YouTube, banks, theatres, games, etc... BTW, the built in maps have been fine for me too (certainly better than the built in iOS 6 maps!) I also own an iPad3, a blackberry bold and got my wife an iPhone 4s. I can reasonably compare these platforms and think windows phone is definitely picking up speed (ahead of blackberry) and the marketplace is great.
  • I'm glad that it works for you. Hopefully, Windows Phone 8 will pick up steam so that the mobile industry doesn't get stale. The Ativ S looks like an awesome handset.
  • WP still small though.
  • Well this news should make most of the 17 WP users very happy
  • I guess Nokia/Bing Maps aren't as great as Wp users claim.
  • No they are, its just a principle sort of thing.
  • all the people bitching on their probably feel bad for uninstalling chrome now...
  • Let's be honest about this, all of the modern web browsers on desktop are roughly the same. They're all just getting to the point of being limited by the speed of the internet connection to your house rather than outright speed of the browser. Chrome is average these days, along with Firefox and IE, and the only reason you think otherwise is because you get used to the UI and location of functionality within the browser that you use most often.
  • I went over to wpcentral and EVERY POST was the same. F*** Google, dump Gmail, Nokia maps and bing are better. If gmaps wasn't such a big deal to them, and Nokia maps is "better" why are they mad if it is something they don't use?!?! Looks like Nokia maps aren't that much better lol
  • y'all mistake a few tech writers crying about the lack of Google apps on WP as the voice of WP users. The majority of WP user really doesn't care. However for the minority of WP user that need their google fix. They should be able to get it.
  • Well, either way, all we saw was crying as if Microsoft was somehow a savior. If you came over here and saw us saying Fuck Microsoft, you would have something to say about it.
  • Wouldn't it make sense for Google to follow in Facebook's shoes and provide their developers with Windows Phones and force feed them the terrible experience Google provides the Windows community which in turn would create better and faster development? As an unfortunate MotoFail Atrix 4G user (Thank goodness for a dev community) and ex Facebook user I must say that the Facebook experience has tremendously improved many time over since Facebook forced their developers to utilize Android phones and experience the "crapware" that was delivered. And vise versa, I'm sure MS has delivered some sub-par material themselves to the iOS and Android community that they could force feed to their employees for better development practices. Stop bickering amongest yourselves Corporate America and focus on the consumer. Either that or just stop intermingling your products with other brands which in turn will force consumers into a closed eco-system but at least stuff like this wouldn't happen and no one would have to listen to complaints about a "pulled" or "broken" system. Google, if it belongs to you just keep it to yourself.
    Microsoft, if it belongs to you just keep it to yourself.
    Apple, if it belongs to you...well just keep doing what you're doing not much will change anyway.
    RIM...I pitty the fool. But I have faith, as a BB user myself I still believe. Alright, time for a round at the bar. :-)
  • no I wouldn't have anything to say about it. I read fuck MS comment every day on different site.
  • Okay, your comments are just as bad as some of the horrible ones on WPCentral. To the people that actually follows this stuff, it never had to do with wanting to use google maps through the browser on a WP device. It was all about blocking a service simply to hurt a competing product. I think the maps/navigation on my 920 and my former Android phones are both great, so I never had an urge to use google maps on my Lumia. What makes me mad is companies purposely hurting consumers to make a point against another company. Google said they weren't redirecting but that incompatibilities caused that to happen. Then, when people called bs, they changed their story saying that they did redirect traffic because of bad user experience. They also said that IE has improved now so they are going to stop redirecting. So IE suddenly got bad enough to redirect and good enough not to redirect in a couple day period? Oh BTW, no IE update. Point being, Google is trying to do what they can to hurt Microsoft and their costumers when possible (won't allow HD in youtube app on WP, etc.).
  • "Point being, Google is trying to do what they can to hurt Microsoft and their costumers when possible (won't allow HD in youtube app on WP, etc.)" I'd be careful trying to promote that angle.....I have a Windows Phone HTC 8S and the option to use Google as a search engine is blocked. The only choices are Bing and Yahoo. So, it would appear that Microsoft is playing the same game and perhaps even threw the first punch in this round.
  • They also block 3% of the desktop market (hey -- that's the same amount as Microsoft has in mobile!) from sites that use Silverlight because they want to hurt Linux adoption. And they are on record saying they will do anything to hurt Linux adoption as far back as 1998.
  • Yeah, I have zero sympathy for microsoft.
  • +9000
  • Actually my default search options are Bing and Google. Might be a HTC thing...
  • Then I'm betting you have a Lumia. It seems Nokia took the high road on this months ago and added in the Google option, while others left it as Microsoft built it. Dave
  • Google trying to hurt MS customers. MS is also doing everything than can to hurt Google, like teaming up their Lobbying in washington with Apple's lobbyist to do what ever they can to hurt and/or slow Google down. MS has nothing to offer in mobile compared to the others and are suffering for it. I hate windows phones, but I do like the new Surface tablets, just wish they would put the whole windows package in it, but they won't to not deter laptop sales and licensing of windows for all the notebooks and laptops.
  • Im just curious but why do you hate windows phones?
  • Why do you hate Google?
  • #droidrage? It must be....
  • These people chose windows phone, let them live with their choice!!!
  • No. This article implies that IE on Windows Phone is somehow broken. That isn't the case. It is Google's implementation of Maps that is flawed because it relies so much on WebKit and WebKit extensions. Obviously IE isn't WebKit. Google could make Maps work perfectly with IE if they wanted to, they just haven't. The days of IE being the broken browser that you need to code exceptions for are long behind it, especially the mobile versions that thankfully don't include IE < 9. Sure there are differences, but only the same differences that WebKit has - it isn't missing any standard features. I haven't got a Windows Phone, I'm an Android user through and through, but I know the technology. Defending Google while trying to dismiss WP as broken is just rubbish though. Please don't post this kind of ignorant fanboy-inciting defence in future. Google messed up here, plane and simple. They can't go on about the free and open web while selectively disabling access to browsers because they're different to their preferred rendering engine.
  • Never said IE was broken, just the web app coded for Webkit when running on it. Unless you or Microsoft want to fund development of mobile apps for the trident engine, IE is dead on the mobile web. Like it, hate it, or deny it -- I don't care. It is what it is.
  • Then they might as well stop developing for desktop IE as well since they, you know, share the exact same rendering engine.
  • preach on barguast. Preach on.
  • What he said ^
  • You'd think Google was personally sending you and all the commenters cheques. The glee of commenters, and the smarmy, douche baggy tone of this article (and the one before it about the initial dust up) make no sense when viewed by a rational observer. Is everyone here paid by Google? No? So why the strange reaction? Simply look at it from a 3rd person perspective, take off the fanboy glasses (may be hard, especially for the author who really seemed to take an absurd glee in this), and you will see a simple situation. One company, in a dominant market position, has been trying to hobble the competition by shutting down it's services on their platform. If this was simply a matter of not making a program for the rival, that would be one thing. I certainly can't complain that Microsoft doesn't port Halo 4 to the PS3. I chose to own the PS3, so I can live with that. In this case, Google Maps is on the internet. It is free to use. It works on IE9 and IE10 just fine. But for Windows Phone users, and only us, Google has broken the site. Nobody, even the author, can really believe that in the space of 48 hours, IE for WP got so bad that it made Google Maps unusable, and then got fixed so that it was OK. Yet, you basically say, no malicious intent. Give me a break. No fix has been pushed out for IE on WP. Nothing has changed. So don't pretend that this was anything other than it was.
  • ...btw, what does this even have to do with Android?? Again, you are a cheerleader and a fanboy to even post about this. "Yay Google! Beat Microsoft!!" Honestly, grow up people, you are consumers. While companies love this blind pathetic loyalty, it serves you no purpose. SAve the loyalty for your family and friends, produces are just that, and shouldn't be evaluated like they are special to you.
  • I have a job to do. We won't miss you if you leave.
  • Does your job entail writing about things from the perspective of a starry eyed fanboy? Can you not report on things in any type of impartial manner? Honest question. Re-read your posts. Do you think you come off as a professional or a fanboy? edit: I admit, calling you a fanboy isn't the best way to go about this. I just don't see the point in someone just blindly defending a corporate entity like this. If one looks at the facts, it is obvious what Google is doing. You can look and find videos of Google Maps working perfectly on WP, so they are obviously covering for what they did because they are getting bad press. So, when I see the way this is being reported here, and the glee of commenters, I can't help but feel sorry for you all. Such a sad thing to be so emotionally invested in a corporation. And you might want to change the title of your post: Yeah, that's broken...derp.
  • Compared to the same page on an Android or iOS device? It's broken. Try it and see for yourself.
  • Broken implies it doesn't work. As that video shows, the program works just fine. Now, I never use it, as a dedicated app is better to use mobile versus a web page. But this is clearly not broken. To imply what a fanboy would do. I would like to think as a writer, and as a reporter (somewhat at least), you wouldn't sound just like the partial fanboys who comment here and elsewhere, but these comments show otherwise. Sad. I stopped being a brand fan during my teens. I guess other people just take longer to realize they don't have to always defend and champion that which they have nothing to do with.
  • Are you kidding me? Its even worse over at wpcentral. Where EVERY POST on this story is "f*** Google! I'll never use gmail ever again. Bing maps is the BEST EVER! Outlook destroys gmail, etc etc etc......." you want to talk about emotionally invested, try going over there. Yea Google fucked up, but in all honesty if you think any company is going to play fair in this game and not try to hurt another platform, I've got a bridge to sell you in San Francisco.....
  • I agree, many of those posts are cringe inducing as well. I don't have a problem with the "won't use google" though, as this and other actions make clear that Google views WP users as pawns in their battle with MS. Lots of people dislike that, and I think that's their right. No one on the WP side is demanding Google make an app. But for them to intentionally try to cripple a users internet experience, to make things so difficult that the user is forced to switch phones, not because they want to, but because they have to? Yeah, that annoys people. I think people have to understand something, you can be both a fan of Microsoft and Google. I have a WP (had an Android, Galaxy S, but found the OS so buggy that for the first time in my life, I went out and bought a phone outright, only a year into my contract because I just couldn't put up with the horrible lag and crashes. i'm sure the experience is much better now, but I've not had a complaint yet on my WP, so I see no need to go back for the time being). But I also use Gmail, Chrome is my primary browser. Youtube is unmatched. And on the web, Google Maps is by far the best. I'm not asking, nor are other WP users, for Google to make wicked apps for their products on the WP platform. But for them to intentionally try to break the internet experience? Yeah, that's the kind of thing that will make people reconsider using their services.
  • Here again we have a poster only looking at facts from one side. As I mentioned above I have an HTC Windows Phone 8S, the option to use Google as a search engine is blocked. The only choices are Bing and Yahoo. Nokia have added in Google but others have left it as Microsoft coded it months ago.....long before this little episode. So tell me, who exactly is using Windows Phone users as pawns? Oh, btw, have you ever heard the name Netscape? Microsoft is far from the White Knight some would make them out to be. The pawns back then were their own Windows users, just like now, when you start looking at the whole picture.
  • You're wasting your time. He's probably just like all of the other Windows Phone fanboys chanting Fuck Google, as if Microsoft is some sort of savior all of a sudden. People can't just choose something that works for them and be happy with it.
  • But as it was pointed out to you, that issue seems to be 8S specific. The 8x, Titan 2, Nokia 710, Dell Venue Pro and Nokia 920 have the options of Bing or Google -- And that's just what I've been able to test around me. And for the record, I 3 android devices and 2 windows phones. The Google experience has been gimped on WP for a long time. I feel that if Google didn't want to develop the apps for WP that's fine, just open up the API's for 3rd party devs to do more with their apps. I'm not going to say something stupid like gMaps is better than any iteration of Google Maps since Gingerbread, but, for being an unofficial client it does have a lot of features. Same thing could be said about MetroTube. In the end, there's different ways to service the users and it looks like both companies seem to forget that.
  • You know, it seems to me that I remember A LOT of similar comments directed at Apple through the years on this site. I'm a WP user, having just switched over from my nexus S. I love it so far, it's fast and solid. But I do use Gmail, all of the android apps actually. I think that the excuse they gave for not making dedicated apps is bologna. But, ok, developers have been using that as a reason for a long time. But not bringing their webapps (gmail, g+, etc.) in line with what is available on Apple and Android devices is unacceptable.
    Google is a search company above all. Their money still comes from search and ads. What sense would it make to alienate a base of potential customers. Ok, I've devolved from my original point into a rant, the original point is that you shouldn't point at WP users for being upset that various Google services are disappearing and/or becoming more difficult to use (exchange ActiveSync support comes to mind), the exact same reactions and words were being shot at Apple from the comments on this site over the (erroneous) patent claims being shot at Samsung from Apple.
  • You're right, we shouldn't be hypocrites. Many of us, myself included, were bashing Apple while the patent trials were going on. But, I will say that I hate fanboyism. And I agree, if Google can provide a decent experience with their web apps on Windows Phone, then they should. They shouldn't shaft the end-user because of a fight with Microsoft.
  • +9000 Tell it like it is.
  • I'm a WP and Android user, never used Google maps on any phone browser, for sure nobody needs to type on their phone browser, not on WP or any other platform, and makes no sense because if you are browsing anything containing any physical address or places the phone redirects to your maps app. but the complaints are for the access restriction, yes, in something that nobody uses, they complaints just for those Google behaviors…
  • Honestly, the biggest issue for me was that by blocking Maps, google essentially hindered any website that integrated google maps for things like showing a business location. I'd equate this to something like Flash not being supported on iOS, while android did (pre-4.1?). No sane person is going to try to run GPS in the browser, just like running things in Flash on android killed the battery in...well...a flash (sorry, couldn't resist). Personally, if I wanted to use google maps for any other reason on my Lumia, I'd download the app gMaps and use that. Though, I'm still yet to be at a point where Nokia Maps has not had the info that I needed, though admittedly, I have never used any phone as a GPS for anything more than being out and not expecting to need a GPS.
  • Flash in Android 4.2 works fine for me. I've played some videos at 1080p without any lag or dropped frames at all. Battery could be better, but as noticeable when looking at battery in settings, the screen is really what drains all the power.
  • Well one thing is clear from the comments here and those at WP Central. Fanboys on both sides are just as bad as the other.. what a cess pool..yeesh
  • Fanboys are so illogical. It is your money, why wouldn't you want competition for it???? I personally like the WP operating system, but I'm glad that if I stop liking it, I can choose something else. A fanboy doesn't think like that. They see something like this and say "lol, shoulda bought Android losers!!" I don't get that mentality at all. As a consumer, i'm ready to take my money elsewhere at anytime. Everyone should be like that. You owe a corporation nothing, they are the ones who have should be fighting over you. Give me a reason to switch to your platform, don't try to force it.
  • Why blow a gasket over it? Chill out! Nobody is forcing you to do or not do anything. Google maps is their product and they can do what they want. Use it, don't use it on whatever browser you have...but to go up and down the thread and reply so passionately about it...even calling people names is a little overboard. At least Google responded quickly, intends to make it accesable again, and at least gave an explanation... I srsly doubt Micorosoft would be so noble about it. It looks to me like Microsoft should start supporting open standards like Webkit and CardDAV / CalDAV instead of Activesync and removing Google from the search options on their Windows Phone 8 devices.
  • "Fanboys are so illogical." Why aren't you over at Windows Phone Central preaching that? Oh wait, that's right: the people over there screaming fuck Google are echoing the way you feel, so they're obviously not fanboys. You guys owe Microsoft nothing, yet you're willing to sell your soul to fight the evil that is Google. You guys are fucking hilarious.
  • I'll go a step further. When the G1 and the Hero were out, Blackberry and iPhone fanboys used to go crazy over Android. It's just funny to see the same attitude that was shown to Android users get thrown to WP users. Realistically speaking, Google and Microsoft pushing each other is a great thing for everyone because they are two companies that have millions of users on each of their web services. It's an area where Apple really can't compete but they are guaranteed to reap the benefits from (for now). If 1st party online services become more competitive, then OS level integration of those services get better also (and idc what anyone says, their execution of this is something that makes WP interesting).
  • +9000 I will agree with you: these two companies going at it will be good for the marketplace. I understand that every platform will have fanboys: I just wish that people wouldn't be bashed for choosing this OS over that OS. Why should an iOS user bash me for not choosing iOS? Or why should I bash you for choosing Windows Phone over Android? I just wish we could all use what makes us happy and leave it at that. I hope Windows Phone does great, especially since there are people that like to use it.
  • Exactly. And frankly this kind of article just encourages them to play up to each other. Yea, come on, let's out-idiot those pathetic M$ fanboys and their fat, stupid W3C-compliant-but-not-WebKit browser. Even more interestingly, this kind of thing is exactly the reason why IE originally got so much hatred in the first place. Not sticking to the standards and making websites incompatible with other browsers. And here we are.
  • Steve Ballmer probably shouldn't laugh at every successful product though.
  • You would be a good Google employee Jerry. You seem to have the apologist thing down.
  • "Eric will be off to North Korea soon to sell all google customers info to them too, so win win. Maybe they will torture him a bit while he's there." Just more insane Windows Phone fanboy dribble. Some people just crack me up.