It's a Christmas miracle! Google Maps for iOS!

Faith Merino · December 13, 2012 · Short URL:

Google Maps debuts in App Store, now number one app in free apps category

It’s a Christmas miracle!

What—peace on earth?  An end to world hunger?  Brad and Angelina finally got married?

No.  Better.  Google’s Maps app is officially available in the iTunes App Store.

It was rumored to be coming some time before Christmas, and then the app hit the App Store on Wednesday night.  It’s been available for iOS 5 or higher for less than 24 hours, but it’s already the number one free app in the App Store.

And, naturally, it’s better than the native application that was scrapped this year in favor of Apple’s own Maps app, which obviously didn’t go over very well.  The Google Maps app now features voice guided turn-by-turn directions, which was the main issue that caused the Apple/Google fissure in the first place.  It also comes with Google Local Search and—most importantly—public transit directions. 

The Apple Maps fiasco caused much heartache among diehard Apple fans.  There were complaints that the directions aren’t entirely accurate, that searches for local landmarks and businesses turn up inconsistent results, and of course the flyover display is, on occasion, totally whack. 

But there was also the issue of public transit directions, which Apple’s Maps app was missing altogether.  Sure, those who rely on public transportation could just use HopStop or any of the other public transportation apps out there, but it was the principle of the thing.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters back in October that the company had no immediate plans to submit a Google Maps app to the App Store for review.

Personally, I haven’t had any problems with Apple’s Maps app.  I’m actually quite happy with the new voice guided turn-by-turn directions.  Since I live in the ‘burbs and drive everywhere, it’s made finding my way around so much easier.  With the old Google Maps app for iOS, I was still having to write directions down on the back of an envelope like a caveman. 

But the Apple Maps app caused just enough of a problem for other users that CEO Tim Cook was forced to apologize, explaining that Apple wanted to offer turn-by-turn directions, but in order to do so, “we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”  Meaning Google wasn’t willing to offer turn-by-turn directions for its iOS app because it wanted to keep that advantage for Android devices.

But the vast majority of iPhone owners didn’t have a problem with the new Maps app.  In a survey of some 4,200 people, only 10% of those who have purchased an iPhone 5 or downloaded iOS 6 said that they’ve experienced a problem with the new Maps app.  Fully 90% said they haven’t experienced any problem with the new Maps app. 

Furthermore, fully one-in-three survey respondents said they are likely to buy the iPhone 5 in the future, and the remaining two-thirds who aren’t planning to buy an iPhone 5 said that it’s because their current cell phone is sufficient and they don’t need a new one.  Exactly 0% of respondents said they aren’t buying the iPhone 5 because of the Maps debacle. 

But, you know, if all you wanted for Christmas this year was the Google Maps app, there you go.  God bless us, every one!


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