The terrifying few months of what will be forever known as Apple Mapgate (no it won't) are over. Google just released Google Maps for the iPhone, so we can all stick Apple Maps in our "Utilities" folder on our homescreens where it can sit comfortably next to other useless apps like Compass and Stocks. But here's the weird thing: Google didn't just package up the old Google Maps for iOS app and re-release it. They spent the past few months actually making a better app, with features the iOS version of Google Maps never had before.
In other words, thank you, Apple Maps, for giving iOS users a better phone.
It's easy to forget that Google Maps for iOS was never particularly great; it was pretty, but increasingly limited, especially compared to Maps on Android. It never had turn-by-turn navigation, which Android has had since October of 2009 (!), it never had bike directions or offline caching, and it used clumsy bitmaps instead of vectors. That last one is why Google Maps for Android (and, to be fair, Apple Maps) loads faster and never looks blurry while zooming or panning.
The underlying data in Google Maps for iPhone was always great, of course; Google spends lots of time and money and effort getting the best data for its maps. But during all the panic over Apple Maps, we lionized the old Google Maps, and we shouldn't have, really.
That's why it's interesting that the new Google Maps is such a marked improvement. It actually looks modern now--no stupid folded-over corner, a skeumorphic relic from 2008. Instead it looks like Google circa 2012, which is very nice indeed. Clean white bars, clear symbols, a hidden sidebar with more options. It has turn-by-turn navigation now, and vector graphics, and listings from Zagat (which Google acquired a few months back). It works even with older iPhones, which Apple Maps does not.
Google responded to Apple Maps as if Apple Maps was a threat, as if any app named "Google Maps" wouldn't get about a billion downloads as soon as it was released. Google decided to compete with Apple. And that's great for us, because Google finally (mostly) stopped handicapping the iOS version of it's map app. It still doesn't have everything the Android version has, but the weird thing about this whole mess is that iPhone users have come out on the other side with something they should have been demanding all along: a modern, full-featured maps app.
This is great news for anyone who needs transit information or better walking directions. I however, will continue to use the default maps until I run into a problem, because so far they have been great. If there is something I Just can't find in Apple's maps then I will have this option to fall back on.
This whole maps thing has really been blown out of proportion, Apple's maps are great (In the US at least, for everyone else, I am truly sorry). In all the areas that I have cross referenced Apple's maps have nearly all of the same point of interest (some places the POI are even better).
It wasn't Google that made the previous Maps. It was actually Apple again. Google just provided the data.
Also, Kramer: When the single most stuck up and self righteous company in the world tells you to use the product of a competitor that they have sworn a war of utter destruction, it's bad. Just because you haven't noticed anything particularly problematic, doesn't mean it does not exist.
Also, try loading up their most touted "feature", the 3d maps, and even in major US cities it looks absolutely terrible.
Face it, Apple dropped the ball.
I like apple quite a bit. Have no intention of switching to android anytime soon. But you are correct, they really did drop the ball. Not only are their POI's not complete, but their search ability doesn't allow for spelling errors. Google knows what you are looking for sometimes better than you do. Also, it drives me NUTS that the apple maps, when doing a search, zoom in directly on the search result without relating it to your location. Yes, it's nice to see that McDonalds is on that corner, now zoom out, zoom out, zoom out, oh, there I am!
I too have not had major problems (haven’t needed to navigate the outback lately) with the Maps app supplied with my iPhone 5. Over a year ago I bought the Garmin app to use on my iPhone 4. I wanted a mapping app that did not rely on downloading data and would function if I find myself with no coverage. It is really a great app and I can't imagine why anyone would want to by a stand alone GPS if you have this app. It runs better than any other stand along GPS receiver I've owned.
But, when I need map I use the new Apple Maps app almost daily and have found few if any issues. As stated, completion is good and I'm glad the Apple Maps haters have something they feel is far superior. I also find it interesting that Google did not provide the latest version of their mapping app until Apple kicked them out of their provided iOS. So they could have provided a better product, they just chose not to. Now can we get off this latest round of Apple is the Anti-Christ and move on to something more productive?
Apple maps has let me down terribly. I was relying on it to direct me and my family to my wife's sisters wedding dinner at a hotel 70 miles away. They showed me the location, which when we arrived was a remote farm. Spent an hour retracing my steps because I believed it was my fault not the map. Ended up having to use google to find the phone number and call the hotel. If it wasn't for a more than friendly concierge talking me to the hotel for over 30 mins, I wouldn't have gotten there. We arrived 2 hours late and missed the family photos, and my wife is still unhappy about this experience. I felt it was all my fault throughout the night and spoiled the wedding for me as well. The last time I rely on apple for anything. Painful, painful lesson. Ps I am an experienced traveller on the road throughout Europe, us and Australia and have never gotten lost with goggle maps, but using apple maps I get lost within 70 miles of my home, for the first time in 20 years of travelling by road. Feel like a true dork thanks apple!!