Having struggled with its own Maps implementation and lost a lot of goodwill in the process, Apple has finally approved the app that it kicked off the iPhone, arch-rival Google Maps is back on iOS.
Back in the Game
The history of Apple's own Maps app doesn't need repeating, bar its latest bit of ignominy down under. The loss of Google Maps has done little credit to Apple, and has led to Apple recommending other apps and opening up plenty of other opportunities for the likes of Nokia's Here app.
But with a huge majority of Apple iOS users happy with and used to the Google app, it is likely to rapidly resume its place at the top. The app is now live on the App Store for free and comes clear maps, local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View and more. Google's new app is for the iPhone but works on iPad too and supports the iPhone 5, and has a neat vector-based map display.
Update: Within just a few hours of launch, the app shot to the top of the App Store's free downloads chart, nixing any hope Apple had that folk would not find or hear about the app. Google has also released an SDK, allowing developers to access Google Maps from within their own apps, and avoiding having to use Apple's.
Google Maps is back
Time to Compare and Update
With the heat off as users turn to Google's and Nokia's solutions, Apple can now go back to quietly fixing and updating its own app (the rumors that it will buy TomTom still won't go away), but the damage has likely been done for this generation through all the bad press.
We'll likely be using an iPhone 6 or 7 by the time Apple has had time to revitalise the product, and created something with enough new features to make people keen to try it out again. Even then, Google won't be sitting still, adding more 360 panoramas and business data to make it more ingrained in our mobile usage.
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