Three months after the release of iOS 6 and the subsequent PR disaster that was Apple’s renewed (and Google-less) Maps app, Google has got a replacement back into the App Store. It’s slick, speedy and, most importantly, a good deal more accurate than Apple’s data. Thank goodness for that.
Google has a look of its own these days. You see it on Google+, inside Gmail and other Google products. It’s the look with lots of white space and light-touch typefaces. Now it’s the look inside Google Maps too. I like it. It’s clean, everything’s very clear and intuitive. The maps are given as much space as possible, with UI elements out of sight unless they’re necessary.
What will you find inside? There’s the maps themselves, obvs, and they’re decently up-to-date and accurate. They’re much as they were three months ago, before iOS 6 pulled the rug out from under everyone’s feet. Accuracy of data goes much deeper than just helping you to avoid getting lost: it results in trust. If you can’t trust your mapping application, you’re never going to bother opening it. (Which has been my experience in recent weeks – I’ve simply not bothered trying to use Apple’s maps, because I didn’t trust that they’d be helpful. Google’s maps? I trust them.)
What else? Satellite view, Street View, public transit maps, turn-by-turn directions. Live traffic warnings. There’s a lot of stuff in here, tucked in at the edges so that it doesn’t clutter up your view of the maps themselves.
Even Google’s data is wrong sometimes, you can report problems easily: just shake your phone to call up a feedback box.
Tap-and-hold anywhere to pinpoint an address, and a small panel pops up at the bottom of the screen. Swipe up on this to display what Google knows about that place – nearby businesses will be mentioned, you’ll probably see a Street View link too. You can get driving directions and a journey time estimate from your current location to that spot with a single extra tap.
Maybe Apple’s big switch three months ago has had a silver lining after all. Most of us were pretty happy with the Google maps we had back then, I suspect. But this new separate app is a definite improvement, and certainly better than Apple’s current offering. It will find a spot on a lot of people’s home screens, and deservedly so. Nice work, Google.
Source: App Store.