Apple Inc took the wraps off its own mobile mapping service and improved the search capabilities of its Siri voice assistant, taking the fight into Google Inc’s domain.
CEO Tim Cook, who took over from late co-founder Steve Jobs last August, spearheaded the unveiling of new services — such as in-house mapping, beefed-up Siri software, address-bar search on its Safari browser — to help keep at bay Google and its Android mobile platform.
Apple tweaked several features in its mobile operating system to try to enhance its ability to entice users to stay within its ecosystem. The upgrades marked a bolstering of Apple’s arsenal as it tries to keep its top-down applications and hardware environment ahead of competition from Android device makers such as Samsung and Motorola Mobility. But the highlight was the debut of Apple’s in-house mapping service after years of development, a direct challenge to the same Google service that is one of the most popular functions on both Android smartphones and the iPhone.
The move signals how the friendship between the two tech giants — former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once sat on Apple’s board — has become a bitter rivalry shaping the evolution of the industry. Jobs was famously quoted as saying he was willing to go “thermonuclear” on the search leader, after it decided to position Android against the iPhone.