Google Maps for iPhone Returns Better Than Ever
Published on December 18, 2012 by Walt Mossberg
Google's rich, reliable Maps app is back on the iPhone, and that means iPhone users can stop relying on the flawed, fledgling Apple maps app that replaced it as a built-in feature in September.
Apple's version is still bolted into the phone, and the new, free Google app must be downloaded from Apple's app store. Google says the app was downloaded 10 million times in just its first two days of availability last week.
The reappearance of Google Maps on the iPhone closes a big advantage Google's own Android phones had gained when Apple's replacement turned out to lack some key features, such as labeling of buildings and businesses, street-view photos and public-transit routing. It also offered too much inaccurate location data.
However, the biggest news here is that the new iPhone version of Google Maps isn't just better than Apple Maps. For now, at least, Google Maps is better in most respects on the iPhone than it is on Android phones. It has been redesigned with a cleaner, simpler user interface that makes it easier to use. Google officials say they took the sudden need to build a new iPhone version as an opportunity to rethink the popular app from the ground up.
I've been testing the new Google Maps on iPhone for a week or so in the San Francisco and Washington metro areas, and I really like it. It isn't perfect, but I prefer it to any other iPhone Maps app I've used, and to Google Maps on Android. The latter will likely also gain the new design in time, but for now, it looks inelegant by comparison.