By Elizabeth Anderson Thursday, 13 December 2012

iPhone users rejoice at new Google Maps app

Three months after Apple controversially ditched Google Maps in favour of its own, Google releases a maps app for the iPhone.

Hoping to capitalise on the iOS6 Apple Maps debacle, Google has released a maps app for fed up iPhone punters.

Apple controversially replaced Google’s mapping service with its own when it released the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 operating system in September, and the decision turned into a bit of a nightmare. Apple’s map service was heavily criticised for misidentifying landmarks, giving the wrong directions and this week was even described as 'potentially life threatening' by Australian police after it sent users off course in the outback.  

Following the backlash, Apple was forced to make a rare public apology. ‘We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,’ new-ish CEO Tim Cook admitted. Soon after, iOS 6 software chief Scott Forstall got the chop (he reportedly refused to sign the apology himself). Richard Williamson, the man in charge of Apple Maps, has also reportedly been fired.

Dutch satnav maker TomTom, which supplied the data for Apple’s new app, distanced itself from the problems and said ‘user experience depends on the choices manufacturers [such as Apple] make.’

At first Google made no promises about releasing Maps app for the iOS6, although iPhone users could download a shortcut to the Google Maps website. In fact, the search giant wasn’t even sure an app would be approved because all new apps have to get approval from Apple, and this was thought to be unlikely given the rivalry between the two tech giants.

Google’s iPhone app features new updates that weren’t available in its original iPhone app. These include turn-by-turn navigation and three dimensional views and quicker zoom features. But it still lacks some of the facilities available on the Android equivalent, such as indoor maps and the ability to download maps for offline viewing.

Still, Google’s return to the iPhone is welcomed, if early reviews are anything to go by.   

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