If you’ve been led astray, in Australia or elsewhere, by Apple’s revamped Maps app in iOS 6 and hoped for a native Google app to take its place, your wish has come true. Late last night, the search giant released Google Maps in the App Store and you can download it in all its direction-giving and traffic-information-showing glory right now.
If you’re familiar with the pre-iOS 6 version of Maps, you’ll notice that the interface of Google Maps bears little resemblance to its Apple-packaged predecessor. However, it packs in the same features plus a few more. Traffic and street views are still present but Google Maps is now graced with turn-by-turn voice guidance, a feature that Google has offered for some time in the Android version of the app. It also includes public transportation directions, which Apple left out of its own Maps app in iOS 6.
Since Google Maps is free, you can get it now yourself without making a dent in your bank account. There are few not-so-obvious tips and tricks that may be helpful. First, shaking your iPhone will prompt a feedback submission form to pop up where you can report a map error or give general feedback on the app (you can turn this off in the app’s settings). Second, tapping on the icon with two arrows in the bottom left corner in street view mode will let you pan around simply by moving your iPhone (because using your finger is just so passé now). Third, swiping from right to left with two fingers will reveal the menu that toggles traffic, public transit, and satellite map views.
Right now, Google Maps is for the iPhone only and does not have an interface optimized for the iPad’s larger screen but The Verge heard that this is in the works. Google also admitted to David Pogue of The New York Times that this iOS version is better than the Android version.
I used Google Maps this morning to help guide me to a local coffee shop (the things I do for work!). Voice guidance worked well if a little less chatty than I’m used to with Apple’s Maps or Garmin’s Navigon. Since I trust Google’s map information more than Apple’s, I do wish I could get Siri to default to Google Maps for directions instead, though I prefer the deeper 3D view offered by Apple’s Maps over Google Maps when viewing driving directions.
There isn’t any advertising in Google Maps yet so you won’t be bombarded by marketing as you search for businesses and get directions. But as long as Google doesn’t go overboard with ads, Google Maps will be hard to beat as a free alternative to Maps that packs in more features and more comprehensive and reliable data overall.