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iOS 18 might let you set Google Maps as the iPhone’s default navigation app, with a big EU twist

Published Mar 12th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
iPhone: Drop pin on Apple Maps
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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I keep trying to use Apple Maps more on my iPhone. But I routinely find myself switching to Google Maps and staying with it. Google Maps is by far my favorite Google app, having become one of those essential services Google provides. If I were given the option to make Google Maps the default navigation app on iPhone, I think I would. 

It turns out that Apple might offer that option to iPhone users come iOS 18. Just like with the browser or email, you might be able to set Google Maps as the default navigation solution on the handset. There’s a big caveat in all of this, and it’s called the European Union. That’s right, the move might be part of Apple’s compliance roadmap for the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

I’m not just a longtime iPhone user; I’m an EU-based one. I’ll experience all the “goodies” in the DMA. I put that in quotes because I’ve been very critical of some of the DMA’s requirements. iPhone sideloading and chat app interoperability are coming to the EU smartphone experience soon. And I want none of that. 

While I won’t sideload apps on iPhone or Android, and I won’t make WhatsApp work with any third-party chat apps, the DMA might bring other changes that I will take advantage of. Like, you’ve guessed it by now, setting Google Maps as the default navigation app on iPhone. 

Apple published a compliance document a few days ago that addresses the measures Apple plans to take in Europe in response to the DMA. I’ve already discussed one of the features the document teases. A software tool that will make the iPhone-to-Android switch smoother for the user. But the same document has this paragraph that applies to Google Maps: 

Apple also plans to introduce a new default control for users in Settings for navigation apps. Apple aims to make this solution available by March 2025

It doesn’t mention Google Maps specifically, as there are plenty of Apple Maps competitors out there. You could set Waze as your default navigation app on your iPhone once iOS 18 enables the functionality. I focused on Google Maps, my favorite navigation app and the most likely alternative I’d set as default on my iPhone. 

Apple doesn’t elaborate on the timeline to implement the feature. But that March 2025 tentative deadline indicates this could be an iOS 18.3 or iOS 18.4 feature. Apple will unveil iOS 18 in June at WWDC and then release the final version of it in September. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple mentions DMA-specific features when it unveils iOS 18. 

Apple could very well bring this feature to all iOS 18 users next year, not just the EU. But considering Apple’s obvious determination to restrict DMA-mandated features to the EU block, I’d expect this default control for navigation apps to be available only in Europe. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.