Call it an early Christmas gift from Google. The long-awaited Google Maps app for Apple's iPhone is finally here.
Of course, this is not just any other app release. Ever since Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app in iOS 6 and on the iPhone 5 in September, users have been yearning for Google's superior and more accurate map features.
"People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone," Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps for Mobile, said in a blog post. "It's designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you're looking for faster and easier."
The app brings Google's mapping service to the iPhone and the iPod Touch (no iPad-optimized app yet) via a standalone, downloadable app. iPhone users no longer have to access the service through the browser on their iPhone. The app also provides robust features, including voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transport directions, live traffic and street view. And, of course, Google itself highlights that the maps are "accurate" in its description in the App Store.
Google also highlights that it has worked specifically to make it a fast experience and tie in search and Zagat results. Google says it will continue to work on the app -- in fact, you can even shake the phone to provide more feedback. In our short time with the app, it seems to work swiftly. It actually seems to have smoother transitions and animations than the Android version.
The new app comes as Apple itself continues to try and improve its own Maps app.
"We're putting all of our energy into making it right. And we have already had several software updates. We've got a huge plan to make it even better," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last week.
Cook publicly apologized to users for the inferior Maps experience just a few days after Apple's Maps app was released in iOS 6 and replaced Google's previous version.
"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment," Cook wrote on Apple's site in September.
Scott Forstall, who was responsible for iOS software and the Maps, will be leaving the company next year. According to reports, he was let go when he wouldn't apologize along with Cook.
Since Apple's app was released, there have continued to be numerous of flaws found. Just this week, an Australian police district urged motorists to use other mapping options.
According to reports, Apple decided to create its own solution after Google held back features, such as turn-by-turn directions, from Apple's app. Apple also wanted to have control over its own solution, especially given that it was a preloaded app. In the last month Google has released new Gmail and YouTube apps for Apple's iPhone and iPad.
Politics aside, Apple very clearly approved the Google Maps app for release today in its App Store. Which means, now you, dear reader, can go get it now and safely and smoothly navigate to your next stop.