Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Maps for iPhone is Finally Here!

Google just released the iPhone version of Maps on the Apple App Store a few minutes ago. I feel a great delight in iOS mappers as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and suddenly silenced (as they try out the app that just downloaded).

Since Apple released iOS 6, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users have been 'stuck' with Apple's proprietary Maps app that was widely considered a downgrade from the Google Maps-based navigation built-in app. There was an outcry, and the wait for Google's own maps app began. After months of iOS 6's release, Google has released an iPhone-only Maps app.

The app is optimized for iPhone 5, but not for iPad. Even the YouTube app was not optimized for iPad until recently, so we can expect to wait for at least a few days before this app goes universal.

The app looks really slick. The standard blue dot that marks your location and many other elements of the app looks consistent with the relatively new, clean look across Google's services. Zooming and panning is very smooth and an even better experience than on the old Apple-managed app.

Apart from driving, walking and public transit directions (last one missing in Apple's Maps), this app also brings voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. Apple's counterpart turn-by-turn navigation feature is not available on iPhone 4, while this works.

A really really cool feature is the new Street View. It now works in augmented reality using the compass and gyroscope on iPhone. To get to street view, hold a point on a street until a place marker shows. Slide the banner on the bottom of the screen up and there is a button for it. Shaking the phone brings up a feature to send feedback to Google.

Google has released this short advert-like trailer thingy for the new app:

Google Maps release will also finally let many people, who have been holding off, to update to iOS 6.

Download Google Maps here.

Do you like the new Google Maps? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!