Google Maps returns to Apple's iPhone, adds turn-by-turn navigation

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Nearly three months after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) replaced Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) preloaded mapping services with its own Apple Maps platform, Google Maps is once again available to iOS device users, this time as a native application offered for download from the App Store.

Google Maps

Google Maps for iOS shows 2D and 3D views.

Google released the eagerly awaited Maps app late Wednesday evening. The free app is highlighted by 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. Google Maps 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.

Google is additionally releasing the Google Maps SDK for iOS, enabling third-party developers to integrate mapping data and services into their own apps. The SDK features vector-based maps enabling users to rotate and tilt views with simple gestures inside your app. Developers also can tweak the maps view to include information like traffic conditions and control camera positions in 3D. Developers can also have their iOS apps launch the Google Maps for iPhone app using a URL scheme.

Google is rolling out Maps for iOS to iPhone and iPod touch devices running iOS 5.1 and higher. The app is available in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Google Maps for iOS arrives in the App Store almost six months to the day after Apple revealed plans to dump preloaded Google services like Maps and YouTube with its iOS 6 operating system update. Sources later told The New York Times that Google was blindsided by Apple's decision to end their longstanding mapping relationship and did not begin work on Maps for iOS until after Apple publicly announced its own maps service.

Apple Maps officially launched in September. Consumers have been harshly critical of the platform, identifying 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.

"The reason we did Maps is we looked at this, and we said, 'What does the customer want? What would be great for the customer?'" Cook said in a wide-ranging interview with BusinessWeek published earlier this month. "We wanted to provide the customer turn-by-turn directions. We wanted to provide the customer voice integration. We wanted to provide the customer flyover. And so we had a list of things that we thought would be a great customer experience, and we couldn't do it any other way than to do it ourselves… And the truth is it didn't live up to our expectations. We screwed up."

For more:
- read this Google Official Blog entry
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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