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New Google Maps Finally Finds Its Way to iOS

After a surprise launch, Google Maps for iOS is at last available, at least for those of us who leapt on the release as soon as the download hit the servers. In theory, it’s the panacea for every iOS user who’s been missing advanced mass transit directions or just Google’s well-known map accuracy and turn-by-turn navigation. But is it really enough to make up for the current state of Maps, or kick alternatives like Nokia Here to the curb? Or keep those of us on the fence from switching platforms just for a better map service? Read after the break for our quick tour.

From our experience, Google Maps on iOS has trace similarities to its Android counterpart, but it’s unmistakably built for Apple’s platform. The very clean look of Gmail and other recent Google apps for iOS carries over to the mapping tool. It’s surprisingly intuitive, and you start to wonder if the Android version could borrow a few touches, such as swiping upwards to expand directions and location details (including reviews) or tucking the layer toggles into a menu pulled out from the right. Not that the Android version is all that troublesome — it just leaves more on the screen in some situations, and occasionally requires a few more taps.

Yes, if you’re wondering, the major checklist features that users have wanted are here. Mass transit directions and Street View are back. Turn-by-turn navigation is the real novelty for iOS, and we’re happy to say it works reasonably well. We only had a limited opportunity to try on short notice, but it covers the vital navigation properly and brings in Google’s very natural-sounding voices from the Google Search app and Google Now for Android users running Jelly Bean. We’d pick it over Nokia Here in most cases, and usually Apple Maps. We’ll admit that Apple’s solution is easier on the eyes, but accuracy trumps prettiness (and occasional at-a-glance readability) any day.

Read more: Jon Fingas, Engadget


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