March 5, 2013
Google Updates Maps For Apple iOS In A Big Way
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Google has just released version 1.1 of Google Maps for iOS, packing Google contacts compatibility, the ability to switch to kilometers, and an easier way to find common destinations around you.
"Google-centric" iOS users will no doubt appreciate the Google contacts integration in Maps 1.1. The update now lets the app send users directly to addresses saved in their Google contact lists, even if these contacts aren´t saved on the iPhone.
Google also makes it easier to search for nearby locales without asking the user to tap in a search. Maps 1.1 introduces a “Nearby Places” feature where users can look for nearby restaurants, coffee, bars, gas an more. These icons are located underneath the search bar. Tapping one of them takes the user back to the map screen and places corresponding red pin drops at the destination. Swiping from left to right on the bottom of the screen moves between the destination.
The new Google maps will also search for nearby ATMs, hospitals, post offices and hotels.
This is the first major update to Google Maps for iOS and also marks the introduction of the app in Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. These versions are English only, however.
Google has yet to release an iPad-friendly version of Maps, something which many iPad mini owners have been clamoring for since the device debuted last autumn.
The story of Google Maps for iOS is a rocky one. Apple began the fight by announcing last year that they´d be releasing their own maps application, kicking Google´s backend data to the curb in exchange for TomTom and Waze data. Millions rushed to download iOS 6 in the first hours of its debut to try out the new Maps app which brought a 3D flyover mode and turn-by-turn directions, narrated by Siri.
What they found was laughable, with many popular landmarks located in the wrong place, bridges and roadways melted into oblivion, and farms listed as hotels.
The entire debacle led Apple CEO to issue a written apology which was suspiciously lacking a signature from a certain executive. Weeks later, it was announced that Scott Forstall, executive over iOS, would be leaving the company. Many insiders at Apple claimed Cook made the final decision when Forstall refused to apologize for their bad maps. Other iOS bosses would soon hit the road as well.
Google Maps was an instant hit with iOS users. When it finally landed in the store, it was downloaded more than 10 million times in less than four days.
Some had believed that the release of Google Maps for iOS opened up the floodgates as millions of users who opted against upgrading to iOS 6 so as to avoid Apple´s new maps.
This suspicion was quickly dismissed, however, as it was discovered that the figures being used to support this argument were representative of two million new iPhone 5 customers in China.