It’s back, it’s back, it’s back. Finally, after three months of millions of people getting lost and even more getting really frustrated with Apple, and their inability to the create a mapping app that their users can really rely on. Google Maps is finally now available to download, for free, on the App Store.
Users who want to Google Maps back at the helm of their handsets can now download the standalone app to their iDevices now – and, in even better news, the app has seen some improvements since its last iOS 5 outing.
Google has now added turn-by-turn navigation and faster loading of vector-based maps, both features weren’t available in the last version.
Apparently it was Google’s reluctance to bring new features like those, according to Apple sources, that made Apple build it’s own mapping service, and nothing to do with the that fact that Apple and Google are in a war of attrition, after the late Steve Jobs declared war on the search engine giant. It’s also postulated that Apple didn’t want Google to get hold of valuable user data that users create when they are using the mapping service.
The new Google Maps app will, of course, collect your data anonymously and will prompt you to login to your Google account so the search engine giant can add location-based data to the information it already knows about you.
iOS users will, of course, be more than happy to exchange their location-based data in return for an app they can 100% rely on – something you could do with Apple’s effort.
Apple’s mapping service was so bad, that CEO Tim Cook personally apologised to iOS users, and iOS chief Scott Forstall and retail head John Browett left the company, after it was rumoured they were unwilling to sign the apology letter.
One day Apple’s own mapping service might be fit for purpose, as the Cupertino company revealed it’s looking to improve its mapping software, with the help of navigation firm TomTom and other outside mapping-technology experts. But until that happens we wouldn’t be surprised if Google maps suddenly becomes the most download free app for the next few months.
The reason why Google maps is so important to many users is that you can rely on it. All the basics are there and work; railway stations are where they’re meant to be, restaurants and points of interests are where there meant to be, and, most importantly, there are features such as public transport directions and Street View that Apple’s Maps just didn’t offer.
Overall, the app is really well designed and works incredibly well with integrated swipe gestures and simple minimal menus. The search box is clearly placed at the top of the screen but deeper features are easily to find and use. For example: if you search for a postcode, and a swipe and a tap will drop you into Street View to get a closer look at where you’re going. One quick tap will provide directions from your current location.
Google’s Maps app lacks some of Apple’s features, most notably the 3D flyover mode, but it makes up for that in reliability and comprehensive coverage. It’s an essential download for all iDevice users.