We all now know about Google redirecting any browser with â€œWindows Phoneâ€ in its user agent string away from Google Maps, but the explanation Google offered does make some sense, with Google claiming the site is optimised for Webkit and â€œWindows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web.â€
Googleâ€™s full statement was:
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.
Tom Verhoeff decided to check if this is indeed true â€“ Did Google optimise the Google Maps Mobile site so much for the iPhone and Android handsets (which after all come in all shapes, sized and capabilities) to the degree that it just would not work on Windows Phone, and would provide Windows Phone users with such a bad experience they were better off not even being able to see the site? Is Google in fact doing us a favour?
He replaced the Windows Phone user agent string with an Android string using Fiddler, replacing it with:
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.3.4; fr-fr; HTC Desire Build/GRJ22) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1
The result is the video above â€“ a perfectly functional website with full touch functionality, including scroll, drag and pinch to zoom.
So now we know Google is not only disingenuous, but also liars.
Tom notes that it does not really make much difference â€“ with excellent maps courtesy of Nokia we do not really care about Google Maps, unlike those stuck on the iPhone. It should however warn people that Google is in fact NOT your friend, and the company is actively hostile to Windows Phone users. If you have a choice about using their services make your plans now to move to another, before Google sabotages your access there too.
Read more at Tomâ€™s blog here.