The Google Maps app shown on an Apple iPhone 4S.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan Getty Images)
By now you know the story-Apple replaces Google Maps with its own slick-looking but flawed Maps app when iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 launches. It gets slammed for producing an app that too often misses landmarks, and delivers faulty directions, while lacking convenient features such as Street View (for a panoramic street level view of your surroundings) and integrated public transportation directions. CEO Tim Cook issues a Maps mea culpa; management changes follow.
The new Google Maps for iPhone brings back Street View and public transit directions, and generally performed well in the limited amount of time I've had to take it on the road since loading it on my iPhone 5 this morning.
Maps loaded quickly and smoothly, and properly got me from my house to my gym, about a 10-mile drive away. The app correctly informed me that it would be clear sailing traffic-wise. I typically got fair warning when I had to make turns.
You will have to download Google Maps from the App Store on your phone since the free app is obviously no longer preloaded; Apple's own Maps app still gets favored treatment.
When you first launch the new app, you're encouraged to sign in with your Google user name and password, thus enabling Google to help you find locations based on your previous searches. Either way, you can easily enter a specific destination by address, or by entering a relevant search query such as "sushi."
I did have a bit of trouble initially figuring out how to get to Street View. You touch and hold your finger down on a map to summon an address, then tap that address or swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If the Street View option appears-the feature isn't available everywhere-you see a thumbnail image of the surrounding area.
In general, the voice navigation was pretty straightforward ("take the ramp") and came through the speakers in my car via a wireless Bluetooth connection with the phone loud and clear
But I did note a couple of bothersome quirks. A few times, I'd get the start of a voice instruction-"in 500 feet"-followed by a brief pause and audible alarm. Only then would I hear the rest of the instruction to "turn left."
Meanwhile, as I neared the gym during my morning drive, the Maps display showed that it would take me 1 minute to get there. It took more like 3 minutes, and I wasn't slowed down by traffic.
These are relatively minor bumps in the road but I would like to take Google Maps out for a longer spin to see what else might emerge. My impression so far is that most of the people loading the new Google Maps on their iPhones will be pleased to welcome back an old friend.
(Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY)