If you’ve been frustrated by Apple’s decision to pull Google Maps from iOS and replace it with a less than steller (ok it kinda sucks) Apple Maps, then I’m about to make your day. Google has just released Google Maps for iPhone. Now in all fairness Apple Maps is working great for some, but there are people that were livid that Apple took away the tried and true Google Maps in favor of their own solution. While I didn’t really use Google Maps for “directions”, I did use it for searching for local businesses all the time. There are businesses that I search for in Apple Maps that just aren’t there yet, so yeah I’m happy to see this App get released.
Google Maps with Turn-by-Turn “Voice” directions
Not only did Google come out with a Maps App for iPhone, but they added turn-by-turn voice directions. This pretty much puts almost all other GPS navigation Apps in the App store on notice. Google is legendary for searching for stuff. Now you’ll be able to sign in with your gmail/google account and access your search history and favorites, yes even the ones you did on your computer. You’ll then be able to navigate from point a (your current location) to point b with voice directions. As many of you know, I’m a long time user of Navigon North America and even though Google Maps has returned with turn-by-turn directions, I have no plans to use it as my main navigation App. There’s one simple reason for this. Navigon allows you to download the maps you choose (by state) to your device so that you won’t need a data connection while driving. Google Maps will require a data connection to navigate. Other than that though, it would be hard for someone to justify buying a navigation App these days for iPhone. You now have two FREE solutions. Apple Maps built-in and Google Maps to navigate to the correct location (just joking, sorry Apple).
How does it work?
Once you launch the App you’ll be prompted to agree to the terms and conditions, optionally sign into your Google account and agree to have it know your location. Then you’ll see a map of where you are with a search field. Type whatever you’re looking for into the search field including business names or addresses. It will find the place in question on the map and then you can tap it to get directions via driving, walking or public transportation as well as a estimated time to get there. Tap the route you want to take and you’ll hear a voice telling you your first move/turn, and yes Street View and Traffic is there too!
Use Siri to route via Google Maps
Since Apple Maps is built-in it has the benefit of working with Siri. You could say things like “navigate home” or “navigate to the Apple Store” and it will fire up Apple Maps and start navigating. However, you can add a couple of words to your Siri voice command to get the option to navigate via other Apps. Since Apple doesn’t do public transportation via Apple Maps, if you say “navigate home by train” it will find your address in Apple Maps and then offer to hand off to another installed routing App that does support public transportation. At that point you can tap Google Maps and still have it navigate by car if you like. Siri will have done all the work of inputting the address. This is great for navigating to contacts too or other relationships like “navigate to my sister’s house by bus”.
This is all good, but just like having a different favorite web browser (in my case Google Chrome) you can’t have Google Maps be your default Mapping App. Anything system related will still launch Apple Maps by default just like anything system related will launch Safari no matter how many browsers you have installed. This is not Google’s fault. It’s a restriction of iOS. Also in typical Google fashion, they’ve released this as an iPhone/iPod touch App, but not as a Universal App for iPad yet. Google usually takes a while to update their Apps to be native on the iPad. This app will work on iPad, just not taking advantage of the iPad screen size.
The Bottom Line
It’s Google Maps and it’s Free! What’s there to complain about? You should be downloading this now!