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December 13, 2012

Google launches iPhone maps app

More choice for iPhone users following Apple's maps debacle

By Steve Evans

Google Maps has returned to the iPhone after Apple approved a native app for download through the App Store.

Apple replaced Google’s mapping software with its own when it launched iOS 6 in September, but the new app was heavily criticised. Users reported towns being incorrectly named and famous landmarks being moved or lost altogether.

Google said the app has been reworked from the ground up to meet Apple’s requirements for entry to the App Store. Features include voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, something that was not previously available when Google Maps was last used on Apple devices; they had been restricted to just Android devices.

However there are a few features that remain unique for Android devices. These include voice search, indoor maps and the ability to download maps for offline viewing.

Some of the features contained in Google Maps are what Apple wanted Google to introduce to iOS originally. However according to the Guardian the two companies could not agree on certain details and Apple decided to build its own mapping application based on data from TomTom.

Launched with iOS 6 in September, users quickly reported problems with Apple’s mapping app. While some were funny, such as images of wobbly-looking bridges or green blobs covering some cities, other errors put people in potentially life-threatening situations.

The problems were so bad that Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to make a rare public apology, and he even suggested users switch to another service while Apple sorts itself out.

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The debacle also resulted in a management shake-up at Apple. Cook fired Scott Forstall, who had been in charge of iOS development, and Richard Williamson, who was head of the mapping software.

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