Google Maps for iPhone upgrade brings faster local search, contacts integration

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) released the first major overhaul of its popular Maps application for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, highlighted by new features designed to simplify local search.

Google Maps for iPhone version 1.1 introduces icons for nearby points of interest.

Google Maps for iPhone version 1.1 introduces icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars, gas stations and other nearby points of interest. "If you're in a rush and need a quick coffee, just tap the search box, then the coffee cup icon, to see the cafés closest to you," explained Google Maps Product Manager Salahuddin Choudhary.

Maps for iPhone 1.1 also integrates Google Contacts. When users sign in and search for a friend's name, the app offers their address as a suggestion, complete with mapping data. The update also expands the English language version of the app to seven new countries--Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates--and lets users choose between kilometers and miles in the settings menu.

Google launched the standalone Maps for iPhone in December, roughly three months after Apple replaced Google's preloaded iOS mapping services with its own Apple Maps service, introduced in conjunction with its iOS 6 mobile platform overhaul. Google Maps for iPhone includes turn-by-turn voice navigation, a feature absent from the preinstalled iOS version because of multiple disputes between Google and Apple, as well as vector-based map images available in 2D or 3D views. The app also integrates live traffic conditions, public transit data and details on more than 80 million businesses and points of interest, complete with Street View and Business Photos images, contact information, user ratings and reviews.

More than 10 million Apple device owners downloaded the Google Maps app in its first two days of App Store availability. Interest in the app is fueled by consumer frustration with Apple Maps, which rolled out with dozens of inaccuracies including missing roads, misplaced landmarks and mislabeled businesses. Apple CEO Tim Cook later issued a public apology for the project, vowing dramatic improvements. A revamped Apple Maps is still under development.

For more:
- read this Google Lat Long blog entry

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