Blog Post

Google Maps for iPhone gets Google contacts integration

Google(s GOOG) updated its Maps app for iPhone(s AAPL) on Tuesday, bringing the service to new countries and adding new nearby search buttons as well as integration with another of its services: Google contacts.

Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE will get access to the English version of Google Maps for iOS, the company announced on its blog Tuesday. Users will also be able to choose in settings to display directions in miles or kilometers.

In addition, Google has added icons that will appear in search so you can tap them for a quicker way to see nearby bars, coffeeshops, restaurants.

For those heavily invested in Google apps, the update to contacts will probably be the most interesting aspect of this update. Google contacts are now integrated into Maps for iPhone. That means that when you search for an address, if it matches with one in your Google contacts, the contact’s address will show up as a suggestion. That’s instead of having to go to your iPhone Contacts and getting directions from there. For users it can cut out a step and for Google it’s another opportunity to keep its users inside and using its own ecosystem even on the iPhone’s competing platform.

The latest version of Google Maps for iPhone arrived in December, three months after Apple dropped the app from default placement on the iPhone’s homescreen. The move coincided with the introduction of Apple’s own Maps app, which debuted to poor reviews in September.