Technologizer

Problem Resolved: Google Maps for iPhone Is Here, Looks Good

Apple's iffy Maps app gets the competitor everyone's been hoping was on its way.

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It seem like iPhone users have been obsessing over the possible arrival of an iOS version of Google Maps for about a century now. Actually, it’s been less than three months. Before that, we had the iOS 5 version of Maps, an app –with Apple software and Google mapping data — which was highly satisfactory except for the lack of turn-by-turn spoken driving directions.

Then iOS 6 arrived, with an all-Apple version of Maps that was beautifully designed but, um, extremely spotty when it came to data. Tim Cook apologized and promised Apple would improve it, but the most obvious quick fix was for Google to release an all-Google mapping app for Apple devices.

And now it has. Google was indeed hard at work on Google Maps for the iPhone, which is now available on the App Store. (It took me a few tries before it downloaded — an awful lot of folks are presumably trying to snag it all at once as it rolls out around the world.) For now, it’s not available in a version optimized for the iPad.

At first blush, it looks very nice indeed. The interface is sleek and attractive, with vector-based maps which load quickly and scroll smoothly; it has full directions for drivers, pedestrians and public-transportation travelers; it includes traffic and Street View and can send you over to the Google Earth app for globe-spanning exploration.

Best of all, it has Google’s map data and address-searching technology — the same painstakingly-constructed stuff which makes Google Maps work so well on Android devices and in desktop browsers. Use it, and you can stop fretting about how long it’ll take Apple to clean up its Maps. (In my personal experience driving around the Bay Area, Apple Maps works well as long as it understands your address correctly — but it lags far behind Google Maps when it comes to knowing where businesses are located and interpreting addresses which are the least bit cryptic.)

During the period of Apple Maps anxiety, some observers fretted that Apple would refuse to allow Google Maps into the App Store. I didn’t: In recent times, there’s been plenty of evidence that Apple no longer declines to approve apps for competitive reasons.

And really, there was no reason for it to nix Google Maps. By bringing the app to the iPhone, Google just gave Apple’s phone a boost in its never-ending battle against handsets based on Google’s own Android. It also largely eliminated a great big obvious reason for owners of previous iPhones to steer clear of the iPhone 5.

Why wouldn’t Apple want to approve a program which will help it sell iPhones — and buy it time as it fixes its own Maps app?

If you try out Google Maps for iPhone, let us know what you think.

11 comments
unknown69
unknown69

Why wouldn’t Apple want to approve a program which will help it sell iPhones — and buy it time as it fixes its own Maps app?

Because they wanted users to stick with their maps for years until they actually become decent. Apple wanted to create a monopoly on their devices, by making apple maps the only mapping app available on ios. Since apple maps suck so bad and users were complaining too much, they had no choice but let google win.

unknown69
unknown69

There’s been plenty of evidence that Apple no longer declines to approve app for competitive reasons. 

This is not true. Google reported they have already made the app 1 week after ios 6 was out and it was up to apple to permit it; which theydidn't do until now. Google is no apple they don't take 3 months to do something as simple as patch a hole exploited by a trojan; leaving users exposed. It didn't take them 3 months to update an app that already existed on ios 5, everyone who believes they did take that long is an idiot.

rickkasten
rickkasten

Way to stay current, Time Magazine. Nokia Maps, the standard of all digital mapping, was released on iPhone and Android a month ago.

KGelner
KGelner

Google is not always best at cryptic searches.  In Denver the generic search "Airport" returns every airport EXCEPT Denver International Airport, a major problem for travelers.  Apple not only finds DIA in addition to other airports, but highlights it as the main airport properly:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kigiphoto/8269178965/in/photostream

The best thing about Apple doing maps is that now Google will be forced to start correcting errors much faster.  They would often let mapping errors sit fallow for years; now they cannot afford to do that.

Luscus
Luscus

@KGelner  

O yea bubba, your's is the only Apple maps that really works, hummmm?

Mr.357
Mr.357

I've been fortunate to not run into any issues with the apple maps app.  But I also live in a major city(Houston, TX) so I'd assume the larger your city the less likely you are to run into problems b/c Apple would take great detail for cities like these. I.E. NY; LA, Chi etc.  I'm still going to give this app a shot though, there may be some features I like better.

LGH0202
LGH0202

I had a major issue with Apple maps outside of Houston on Thanksgiving day.  The app did not reflect the closing of I-10 due to the 150+ car pile up and I got stuck on the intererstate on our way to Thanksgiving dinner.  When I pulled up my husband's Google maps on his iPhone, Google maps showed the pile up accurately.  Apple maps showed that I-10 was green with two little red spots while Google showed solid red for miles.  Good luck using Apple maps in Houston...

Mr.357
Mr.357

@LGH0202 I've had great luck actually.  Not one issue when using it.

carrasqu
carrasqu

It looks very good. I tried the voice guided turn-by-turn and it works nicely, at least in DC. The interface is way better then it was on previous versions of the iphone.