December 13, 2012
Google Maps Comes To Apple iOS
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s coincidence, of course, that Google would release their new maps application for iOS in the same week an Australian police department called Apple´s Maps “Life Threatening.” (The same department issued the same warning about Google´s maps 2 days later.)
The app arrived in the App Store late last evening and brings several features once found in the native Apple/Google version which was sent away this autumn.
Turn-by-Turn navigation has long been a part of Google´s Maps app in Android. Although the pre-iOS 6 apps were designed by Apple, they used Google´s data, and they weren´t yet willing to hand over this functionality to their main competitor. Rumor has it this was a main sticking point in talks between these companies, thus leading Apple to give Google the boot and strike out on their own.
These guided directions are now a part of Google Maps for iOS, complete with an algorithm which considers traffic conditions before sending you on your way. The app also tucks away route information underneath three dots on the right of the screen. The next turn in the directions is listed at the top, and drivers (or passengers) can swipe through to see their next directive.
Google Maps for iOS also (finally) brings public transportation routes to the iPhone. This feature was part of the data locked up in the Apple/Google negotiations and once the two parted ways, only Google knew the busses home. For as bad as Apple´s Maps was when it first launched (it´s been improving) the worst part about its release was the lack of bus and train routes. Having a location off by a mile or so is no good, sure, but not knowing how to take a bus there is an embarrassing omission.
When Tim Cook apologized for Apple Maps, he suggested several apps which offered this kind of information, but none of them worked as well as Apple and Google´s maps before. Public transportation routes are listed in regular view in Google Maps for iOS and can also be highlighted in bright colors when you select “Public Transit” from the 3 dot button on the bottom right. Here, users can also toggle Satellite and Traffic views, as well as open the map in Google Earth.
Lest you forgot, this is a Google app, and with any Google app comes a wealth of information. Google has tied in Google+ Local into their new iOS Maps app, giving those out in a new part of town the ability to swipe through several local listings.
Street View has also made its way to the iPhone, another popular feature many had been clamoring for.
This isn´t the first time iPhone users have been able to use Google Maps since iOS 6 was released, of course. These maps always worked on the web, and many had resorted to this approach as a work around.
Though this app will no doubt be a welcome addition for many iPhone users, the Elephant-sized question which hangs in the room is this: What took Google so long? They knew Apple would be ditching them this year and had plenty of time to get this app out to iOS users.
Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps for mobile spoke with Drew Olanoff with TechCrunch and said writing a maps app is tough work and, as such, took the team a little while longer to finish.
“The reason is that a mapping app is not a regular app with displays and images. It´s like a game, its OpenGSL. There´s a huge team here. We worked on it for quite a while. In terms of timing, there wasn´t any plan, to wait a bit. We wanted to get it ready, the team worked day and night and we want to give our users the best experience possible,” explained Graf. The app is available now for free in Apple´s App Store.