After a bit of craziness yesterday when the mobile version of Google Maps stopped working on Windows Phone 8, Google has clarified/changed its story. According to reports by The Next Web, Google Maps mobile is coming back after all.
Initially, Google explained the absence of the mobile app on Windows Phone 8 by saying that the mobile app was optimized for WebKit browsers like Chrome and Safari, but not Internet Explorer. Now Google's saying the redirect was the result of a performance test, and as a result of another one, they're working towards bringing the app back. Google's statement on the issue is as follows:
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.
It's definitely a good thing that Windows Phone 8 users will be getting their Google Maps back, but the way this whole thing went down has been profoundly weird and Google's handling of it seems kind of shady. Hopefully everything will play nice from here on out. At least for a little while. [The Next Web]