Google has released its long-awaited native maps app for iOS. The app brings turn-by-turn navigation and transit directions to long-suffering iOS 6 users, many of whom have sworn off Apple’s buggy and inaccurate mapping solution in favour of inferior third-party alternatives.
Nokia recently released a HTML5-powered Maps app for iOS called Here, but Google’s version is slicker and faster, with pixel-perfect vector graphics and access to Street View. Google provides accurate traffic information in a number of countries, including all major Canadian cities, and the turn-by-turn navigation will be familiar to anyone who has used an Android device.
While the app isn’t available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users will find that Maps provides comprehensive local search, accurate directions, and it even plugs into Apple Maps as a transit direction output if you want to continue using the first-party app in some instances.
Google Maps for iPhone adopts the flat, minimal look it’s taken with recent iOS apps like Gmail, YouTube and Currents. They’ve also released a SDK for developers to add native Google Maps hooks into their current applications. For example a situation that asks whether you’d like to open directions in a specific app could point to Google instead of Apple. The same hooks have been added for Chrome in the Gmail for iOS app, and it works quite well.
Google has been very shrewd about the release of this app; they don’t want to overshadow the Android version, which is arguably more feature-filled and performs better, but they also want to appeal to the many millions of frustrated and disenchanted Apple users who have no intention of switching over to the other side.
If you’re an iPhone user running iOS 6, give Google Maps for iPhone a try.