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Microsoft images used in Maps for iOS 6

A sharp-eyed developer has spotted an interesting twist in Apple's much publicized departure from Google Maps in the iOS 6 Maps app -- an unexpected partner, in Microsoft.

Screenshot by Joe Aimonetti/CNET

Much ado has been made of Apple's decision to ditch Google's mapping technology in favor of an in-house solution for the Maps app in iOS 6. Yesterday's WWDC keynote failed to shed light on how Apple plans to accomplish that task, but an anonymous tipster leaked iOS 6 beta screenshots showing TomTom attribution information, later confirmed by CNET.

Also included in Apple's mapping initiative is OpenStreetMap and at least 15 other mapping data providers (AND, DigitalGlobe, Intermap, LeadDog, others).

While the attribution lists a number of map data providers, Microsoft is conspicuously missing. So how is Microsoft involved? According to New Zealand-based developer Cody Cooper, as reported by Technically Personal, some of the maps in the iOS 6 beta, seeded to developers after Monday's keynote, have Microsoft (Bing Maps) attribution.

Clearly the images belong to Microsoft, yet they are not listed in the full attribution list provided by Apple.

Screenshot by Joe Aimonetti/CNET

As Apple continues to distance itself from Google, it will certainly be interesting to see where new partners emerge from. Microsoft has been there in the past and it looks like the two companies still share friends (and a mutual competitor in Google).

With Apple dumping Google's maps in favor of its own solution, will Google's seeming domination of the mapping space be coming to an end? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!