If you’re an iPhone owner and have been sorely missing Google’s dedicated app for Maps that Apple replaced with their own Map app when iOS 6 was released, well today’s you’re lucky day. At long last, Google has released Google Maps for iPhone and it brings back the glory of the old days; namely a vector-based map service you can actually rely on, Street View that provides 360-degree panoramas of streets and goes inside more than 100,000 places of business worldwide, detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest, Google local search that aids in discovering places to eat and shop with ratings and reviews, live traffic information, and directions for driving, mass transit, and walking. Pretty much everything you had been used to using with Google Maps on iOS.
But it doesn’t stop there. The most significant enhancement to Maps is turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance, and it works just as advertised. Also, this latest version of Google Maps looks better than previous versions; it features a new design that’s sleeker and more streamlined than ever before. The map fills up the iPhone 5’s larger screen; a search box sits at the top for you to quickly input addresses and other queries to put Google local search to work; on the bottom left the “three dots” icon can be swiped to the left to reveal a list to enable live traffic, public transit, satellite view, and a quick link to the Google Earth app; if you’ve inputted an address or point of interest a swipe up from the bottom gives you detailed information about the location, including links to Save it, Share it, and enable Street View (swipe down to return to the map); at the bottom left resides the trusty “you are here” icon that when pressed will instantly locate your current position on the map (tap it again to enable smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views); and when you first open the app it asks you to log in with your Google Account so you can sync your searches, directions, and saved places between your computer and phone–score!
Though it doesn’t pack everything that its Android counterpart has (cashing maps for offline use is noticeably absent here), Google has does a fine job bringing back the glory and then some to Maps for iOS. If you’re obsessed with Flyover and prefer a map that is admittedly more pretty, stick with Apple’s offering. However, if you can live without those things (and Google’s offering doesn’t look so bad) it’s a no brainer that you should hide Apple Maps inside some folder and replace it with Google’s solution. Heck, even Apple CEO Tim Cook advises customers to use alternative map services while his company works out the innumerable kinks. Google Maps has proven over the years to be simple to use and extremely reliable, and that’s what it all comes down to, really. So watcha waiting for?
The new and improved Google Maps is now available as a free download in the App Store. It is compatible with iPhone 3GS and up, iPod touch 3rd-gen and up, and your device must be running iOS 5.1 or later. The app will work on the iPad, but note that it is not optimized for the original iPad and iPad mini screen sizes yet. Catch a fun clip from Google after the break.