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Now with turn-by-turn navigation, Google Maps returns to iOS

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Three months after being dropped as the default mapping app in iOS, Google Maps is back. On Wednesday evening, Google Maps(s GOOG) for iOS 6 hit Apple’s App Store(s AAPL). The new app has been redesigned by Google and has, among other features, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and transit directions.

AllThingsD was first to report Google Maps’ imminent arrival. The app has a very different look than the one Apple collaborated on with Google for previous versions of iOS. Google says this version will load faster, and has smoother tilting and rotating for both 2D and 3D images.

Google’s app has been much anticipated since Apple removed it as a default app with the launch of iOS 6 in September. Apple ditched Google Maps reportedly because Google had declined to include turn-by-turn directions in the iOS version of its app.

Apple’s own Maps app, its first-ever effort in this area, landed with a thud back in September. Users immediately complained the app offered poor directions, mismarked landmarks and bad 3D imagery. Apple also chose not to build public transit directions directly into the app, but instead left that task to local, third-party apps.

Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for the app’s condition and promised the company would improve the app. Though there’s been no definitive word about what Apple has done to make improvements, Cook said in an interview last week that Apple has “a huge plan to make it even better.”

In the meantime, however, a third-party app from a familiar brand like Google will be welcome to iOS users. It won’t automatically work the same as when Google Maps was the default app but Google has released an SDK that will allow developers to display Google Maps and Google location data within their own app, instead of defaulting to Apple’s Maps app.

13 Responses to “Now with turn-by-turn navigation, Google Maps returns to iOS”

  1. Sharon Lecnar

    I have tried and tried to get voice activated turn by turn on google maps from my iPhone4 but the star button never appears and no voice activate. This is very frustrating. Why does it not work?

  2. It’s very good and has a nice turn-by-turn voice (in Australia), it’s not overly intuitive and feels fragile but a welcome return to street view. It doesn’t feel rock solid like a proper app more of web page (which essentially what apps are). It is a great back up for Apple’s maps. You can’t beat some of the features of the Apple maps though, like siri and the fact you turn off your screen using maps and when you approach a turn it switches itself back on and off again. This is a battery saving feature that other navigation apps don’t enjoy.

    Apple has a long way to go and siri saying I have found this place but it might not be correct does leave you somewhat lacking in confidence so it is great to get access to the new google app – and by crickey it’s free!!! Generation Y really don’t know how lucky they are!!

  3. Michael W. Perry

    Apple’s own Maps app had one success. It motivated Google to create a full-featured version for iOS. Hopefully these features aren’t far off.

    1. An iPad version
    2. The ability to store map data for some locations, i.e. a city metro region.

    I never consider the lack of transit routes and times a negative. In Seattle, we’ve got OneBusAway, an excellent app that actually works better than one that requires going through a map app and location services. For oft-used bus stops, I don’t need to know where I am. I just need to know when the next bus is coming.

  4. Installed the new Google Maps app last night. I checked he public transit functionality and got a “Public Transit Information Not Available in this Region” message for Washington DC. Checked NYC and it’s there.