After intentionally blocking Windows Phone users accessing its Mapping services, Google has now said it would soon fix the issue.
After it was discovered late yesterday, that users on their Windows Phone can no longer access Google Maps from within the stock Internet Explorer browser – and instead they redirected to Google’s mobile homepage for “other devices.”
Google in a statement defending its move said, “that it never officially supported in-browser Google Maps on the Windows Phone platform, and they blocked the Maps on mobile IE as the “fact” that IE doesn’t support the WebKit engine.” So, they began redirecting users whose browser user-agent strings betrayed them as Windows Phone owners.
But, would Google say, why it “only” redirects Windows Phone to page for all “other” mobile devices. When, it redirects Android phone URL to a page for Android apps–and, the iPhone gets redirected to a page pitching Google’s iOS apps.
Here is the full Google statement (via 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 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.
When Google was asked about “when the test was done on IE,” and “when the redirect based on that failed test was put into place.” If this so, why didn’t users encounter the redirect before and why did all these Windows Phone users suddenly encounter problems? Google said it couldn’t share when the test was done and that the redirect was in place for “some time.”
“The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web,” Google stated.
However, reports suggests, that Google only recently began blocking Google Maps in IE on Windows Phones, due to the fact that Maps was working fine on desktops running Internet Explorer.
Microsoft in response to Google’s above quoted statement that Maps only working on Webkit browsers said, “Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 use the same rendering engine.” For those on a Windows Phone, try visiting http://maps.google.com/ using Internet Explorer.
So, if IE is the same on Windows Phone as it is on Windows 8, why would Google Maps stop working on Windows Phone “only”? Is Google trying Apple!