Google Maps returns to iOS, now with turn-by-turn navigation

By on December 13, 2012, 9:44 AM

Google Maps made its much anticipated return to the iPhone last night, almost three months after Apple replaced it as the default mapping system in iOS 6 with its own in-house maps app. The new app has been built from the ground up and includes features that have been long available for Android, such as voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, transit directions, and live traffic information.

The new Google Maps uses vector imaging similar to Apple's Maps, rather than bit mapped tiles on iOS 5 and earlier, resulting in faster load times with information scaling that incrementally displays new data as you zoom in. Tilting is also smoother as a result and rotating is now supported for both 2D and 3D images.

It’s not integrated with Siri and since you can’t change the default map client on iOS, asking Apple’s robotic assistant for directions will just take you to Apple Maps. You can use Siri to launch Google Maps, however, and then conduct your search from there. Another feature making a comeback is Street View, complete with 360-degree panoramas, and the ability to see inside participating buildings and businesses.

The new app is available in roughly 40 countries and 29 languages. Google also launched an SDK that gives developers a chance to integrate it into their apps and bypass Apple’s own mapping hooks.

All in all Google Maps for iOS is much better than it ever was on Apple’s platform -- The New York Times’ David Pogue says Google even believes in some ways it’s better than the Android version, noting that “The brand-new, completely rethought design is slick, simple and coherent” whereas Google Maps for Android “accommodated its evolving feature set mainly by piling on menus.”

Whether Google was purposely dragging its feet on improving its iOS apps to keep up with Android, or Apple wasn’t allowing it to do what it wanted, Apple kicking out Google's apps from iOS eventually resulted in a better experience for iPhones users with the revamped YouTube app and now Google Maps.

Apple’s own Maps app was met with intense criticism back in September. Users complained the app offered poor directions, missing or outright wrong data, and lousy 3D imagery. This led to an apology letter from CEO Tim Cook and promises to make the app “even better”, followed by the surprising departure of Scott Forstall, who refused to sign the apology letter, and product manager for Apple's Maps Richard Williamson.

User Comments: 10

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captainawesome captainawesome said:

I had just installed and tested it Loving the speed of it!

2 people like this | Cota Cota said:

Google needs to learn to say No :\

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Ok, I installed it on iPhone, loving it! But where is the version for iPad? It is not anywhere to be found...

1 person liked this | Sourabh Mokhasi Sourabh Mokhasi said:

If google had just said no,those apple loving morons would have no other way to go but buy an android for decent maps..

1 person liked this | ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Your welcome Mr. Cook, please direct all thank you letters directly to the Google HQ.

Guest said:

Installed it on iPhone 4 and it doesn't work, that is no map data shows up, just the big blue dot in the middle with the beige screen. Tried rerunning a few times with the same results.

Guest said:

So Apple. Please explain why my iPhone4 couldn't support Turn by Turn in your maps app, buy oh, Free Google Maps supports it as smooth as butter......

Guest said:

Won't install on my iPhone 3G :(

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Very generous of Google.

Guest said:

Yesterday this didn't work on my iPhone 4 (map data never updated), today it works and works very well. The Google Map app is 10 times better than Apple Maps.

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