Google (GOOG) Maps Returns to the iPhone – Apple (AAPL)

Lost iPhone users have a lot to be thankful this holiday season. After months of anticipation, Google (GOOG)’s much-rumored native Maps app has finally gone live in the App Store, four months after the internet search giant’s mapping service was discontinued in iOS 6.

The timing couldn’t come soon enough for the unhappy iOS users, who have been waiting patiently for Google’s mapping service to be back to Apple (AAPL) devices. As you know, Cupertino chose to drop Google’s mapping data in the latest version of iOS, going with its own built-in proprietary solution.

Needless to say, Apple’s poorly built and much criticized mapping application has not been well received. In fact, so great was the backlash against Apple’s in-house maps app which has been plagued with controversy over unreliable data, missing transport information and wobbly satellite imagery, that Apple CEO Tim cook took it upon himself to apologize for the poorly built product and pull it from the App Store. Since then head of the iOS software team and the man chiefly responsible for Apple Maps’ mess, Scott Forstall, and maps manager Rich Williamson have been fired.

Google’s new app offers iOS 6 users the ability to switch back to Google’s free offering. However, Apple’s maps is still the default option on iOS devices, meaning any third-party app that looks to re-direct the user to mapping system information will expedite Apple maps over Google’s.

Unlike the previous Maps iOS app by Google, this one features a number of enhancements compared to the built-in maps app on iOS 5, most notably turn-by-turn navigation and vector maps. There’s also Google Street View, a feature lacking in Apple Maps.

Here is more information on the app from Google’s release notes:

Navigate your world with Google Maps, now available for iPhone. Get comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps with built-in Google local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View and more. Use Google Maps to discover great places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and reviews from people you trust. Sign in to save your favorite places and quickly access all your past searches and directions from your computer, right on your phone.

* Find addresses, places and businesses around the world with Google local search.
* Discover places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and local reviews.
* Sign in to sync your searches, directions, and favorite places between your computer and your phone.

* Get voice guided, turn-by-turn driving directions.
* Find your way by train, bus, subway or walking directions.
* Access live traffic information in cities across the world.

Street View and imagery
* View 360-degree panoramas of places around the globe with Street View.
* See inside more than 100,000 businesses worldwide.
* View high resolution satellite imagery of locations around the world.

Simple and easy to use
* An entirely new Google Maps experience on your iPhone.
* Newly designed and streamlined interface for even easier navigation of your world.
* Use gestures to explore the map and browse results.”

You can grab the new app by clicking here.

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