Google Finds The Way With New Maps App [Review]

Google Finds The Way With New Maps App [Review]

You are here. Well, one or two of you perhaps

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.

Google Finds The Way With New Maps App [Review]

All the important stuff is here

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.

  • FriarNurgle

    Why in the hell doesn’t it have access to contacts or at the very freaking least bring up your gmail contacts if you sign in. Pretty big oversight imo.

  • SupaMac

    Very much agree.

    Why in the hell doesn’t it have access to contacts or at the very freaking least bring up your gmail contacts if you sign in. Pretty big oversight imo.

  • Shane Bryson

    Why in the hell doesn’t it have access to contacts or at the very freaking least bring up your gmail contacts if you sign in. Pretty big oversight imo.

    Thank Apple. It’s part of their restrictions on 3rd party apps.

  • Buster

    @ShaneBryson hhmmm…third party apps can still access contacts in limited ways. But what @FriarNurgle is saying is that even if apple has some restrictions there, Google should have implemented a work around through Google Contacts

  • technochick

    Not all that fond of the UI. Unintuitive in many ways in my opinion. I have deleted it and will stick with web app for verifying directions

  • technochick
    Why in the hell doesn’t it have access to contacts or at the very freaking least bring up your gmail contacts if you sign in. Pretty big oversight imo.

    Thank Apple. It’s part of their restrictions on 3rd party apps.

    There’s no restriction against using them, you just have to give each person override up front.

  • BlogApplePeru

    3 screenshots and 300 words? That’s a review? Come on guys, this is CoM, you can do better than that.

  • Guest

    I’ll be honest. The only thing I ever use Google’s maps for is Street View. If Apple comes up with something like that other than Flyover, I’ll ditch Google’s maps for good.

    I installed it on my iPhone 4 and it’s not as fast as Apple’s.

  • TheMacGuy

    I don’t like the new Google Maps app. It’s slow, buggy, and unintuitive. Before to get Street View you would tap and hold to drop a pin, and click the Street View button and let it load. Now you have to drop a pin, wait for it to gather the address, tap or slide up on the info and wait for that to load, then tap Street View and let that load. And for directions, I still like Apple Maps. The reason, it is the only thing (app or GPS) that is able to precisely get my house’s address right. Others will put the pin either 2-3 doors down (Garmin GPS) or at the end of the block (new Google Maps app), but only Apple has been able to drop the pin directly on top of the house. I use to use Navigon (Garmin system) for Turn-by-Turn, but what ever server Apple is going through for Turn-By-Turn (either Apple or TomTom) it’s better and faster. Plus, I’m use to that robotic voice on the older GPSs, so having Siri give the directions, is even better then the voice Google has. Once Apple introduces a real Street View replacement or gets most of the country in FlyOver, I have to keep this bad Google app on my device. Please hurry Apple!!

  • LJH43220

    I find it very strange that the new app doesn’t have a way to rename bookmarks. You can bookmark a street address, but it won’t let you change the name of the description to something you’d actually remember (like “Mark’s house” instead of “321 Main Street”). You could do that on both of Apple’s map apps and it seems like a strange oversight considering how strong the rest of the app is.

  • Allan Cook

    I goofed around with it a little bit this afternoon and decided Maps is better for me. Sorry.

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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