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Google Maps lands on iOS with turn-by-turn satnav

  • Google Maps
  • Google Maps venues
  • Google Maps satnav

By Barry Collins

Posted on 13 Dec 2012 at 09:31

The Google Maps app has officially returned to iOS with a host of new features, including turn-by-turn satnav.

Google Maps was abruptly ejected as the default iPhone/iPad mapping app with the arrival of iOS 6 in September, and replaced with Apple's widely panned Maps.

Today, Google Maps has returned as a free standalone app, and includes several new features. The most significant upgrade is the inclusion of turn-by-turn satnav, which Google has previously reserved for its own Android handsets.

The satnav includes live traffic data, although it merely presents users with a choice of routes with estimated travel times before the start of a journey, and doesn't automatically reroute users according to live traffic conditions, unlike paid-for apps such as TomTom. Other advanced features such as manual rerouting, night driving mode and - crucially - downloadable maps are also absent.

However, the voice guidance does read out street names, and users who sign in with their Google account can save their home and work addresses to save having to bash in postcodes or addresses ahead of each journey.

Google Maps satnav

Google Maps also provides directions for pedestrians and public transport, which includes Tube, train and bus routes here in the UK.

Google's app addresses the biggest problem with Apple's Maps: reliable search for local venues. In our brief tests this morning, Google Maps accurately identified a selection of local destinations, including searches for "Dennis Publishing", "Debenhams Brighton" and "Drusillas" zoo.

By contrast, Apple Maps slightly mislocated Dennis Publishing, returned no results for "Debenhams Brighton" and located "Drusillas" in Texas, rather than Sussex.

Venue searches also return an index card displaying the full address, a shortcut to call the venue, estimated driving times and Street View photography.

Google Maps venues

Maps SDK

Google has also released an SDK that will allow other developers to embed Google Maps into their own applications.

The SDK allows developers to alter the map view so that they can include features such as traffic data or use different 3D camera angles. Developers can also launch Google Maps using customised URLs from within their apps, allowing users to locate a store, for example.

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User comments

for the iPhone.....

...not much use on the iPad, yet.

By jmiii on 13 Dec 2012

Missed a Trick

Google should have charged a nominal fee £1 and used the proceeds to aid companies in court action against Apple - this would have led to apple users paying for the Apple legal bills. At £1 per download Apple users would be drooling in their pants to get hold of this software which actually works.

By Manuel on 13 Dec 2012

Default Application

Now, if only there was a way to make Google Maps the default mapping application.....

By clkenton on 13 Dec 2012

Well Hidden

Maybe it is just me but it is impossible to find this in the App store for some reason ;-)

I had to do a Google Search "where is google maps itunes store" and follow the links into the Store.

By PCGordon on 13 Dec 2012

Well Hidden

Maybe it is just me but it is impossible to find this in the App store for some reason ;-)

I had to do a Google Search "where is google maps itunes store" and follow the links into the Store.

By PCGordon on 13 Dec 2012


I couldn't find it earlier this morning but it's now findable by searching and is top of the free apps list both in the app and on iTunes.

So no conspiracy theory there, although I was trying to see if it was included in the list of alternative mapping apps that Apple produced, but I couldn't even find the list...

Looks good to me, perhaps it's now time for me to stop putting off upgrading to iOS 6.

By halsteadk on 13 Dec 2012

So in the end, Apple wins?

The strange irony of having what is an absolute fantastic app back on the App store is that the reason that Google Maps was dropped from iOS was because Apple wanted to include turn by turn directions in the same way that Google provided for android handsets. Google, seeing a commercial opportunity said no, and Apple bit the bullet and ditched it for its own Tom-Tom powered solution.

But now, Google have added all of the features that Apple wanted in the first place, whereas scoring a win for iPhone users albeit, going the long way round.

I wonder what the betting is that iOS 6.2 will have Google Maps back as its default mapping app?

By willdamien on 13 Dec 2012


No ipad yet, but you can always use the iphone app.

By JGray on 14 Dec 2012


Yes, but as I say, it's a pretty poor experience on the iPad - not much use at all!

By jmiii on 14 Dec 2012

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