For many iPhone users, the nightmare is over. A free, stand-alone version of Google Maps has been released, replacing the need to use Apple’s version.
The new app has a more simplistic look and feel than its predecessor, which used to be bundled on all iPhones until Apple replaced it with its own version. But that doesn’t mean the latest iteration of Google Maps doesn’t have anything new to offer: it’s the first iOS version to include turn-by-turn spoken directions.
There’s still plenty of room for improvments, however. For example, it does not give users a way to access the smartphone’s address book, so addresses have to be cut-and-pasted in.
This software can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store now, for free.
A Long and Winding Road
When the first iPhone debuted back in 2007, it came bundled with mapping software that used data from Google Maps. The cooperation between Apple and Google continued for years, but began to sour after the release of Google’s rival Android OS.
The version of Google Maps that comes with Android-based devices is very feature-rich, and includes voice-guided navigation. Earlier this year, Apple decided that its smartphones should also provide this feature, and went to Google to see if they could come to an agreement. Google was willing, but had some conditions: the iPhone version of Maps be renamed “Google Maps” and Google get more access to the location data on users being generated by the software. Apple refused.
Instead, Apple developed its own version of Maps. This was clearly created hastily, and when it debuted in the fall with iOS 6.0, it generated so many complaints that Apple CEO Tim Cook felt the need to make a public apology, and the man in charge of the development team was pushed out of the company.