Hallelujah! Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Or praise Google!
Why? Because this morning I woke up to the news that the Google maps app for iOS6 was now live! Ok, maybe a bit of hyperbole in that first line as this is not solving world hunger or Syria or other bigger issues, but for users of Apple devices running on iOS6, it’s pretty big news. Back in October, Apple upgraded the operating system for the iPhone and iPad, and killed off a few apps such as Youtube (good!) and Google maps (bad!) replacing it with Apple maps. This was not a good thing as it replaced an app that whilst not perfect, 95% of the time worked. Which is pretty good. Can’t expect a map of the world to be 100% accurate can we? However this new Apple maps. Oh dear. Non Apple users have undoubtedly heard of its Aussie killing plans, where the police in rural Australia are actually advising people against using Apple maps as it’s so inaccurate, it’d left people stranded in the bush for 24 hours. Whilst the majority of people have not been led to their certain death, like some sort of child catcher app, offering you a map to a lollipop, I haven’t encountered an Apple map user who doesn’t have a story to tell. Personally, my worst experience with the app was trying to find directions for a 3 mile journey in Brussels… where I was offered a route that was 432 miles long! So, news of Google maps = good thing.
So what does it look like?
Well, first impressions are that it cleaner than not just Apple maps but the original Google maps. It’s a lot more responsive, offers a lot more detailed data regarding what’s really going on in the world, and it’s a lot more engaging, with clearer engagement points.
It also offers far more impressive live transport information, using information from Transport for London. On the left, you’ll find directions from my flat to Brixton, using live traffic updates (however to be fair, when is London traffic not heavy?) or detailed directions for taking the tube (maybe not the best example as it’s one tube line, but it’s got great integration with TFL’s information.
Obviously it’s only just gone live, and I’ve got to do a lot of testing however it’s instantly a better experience than not just Apple maps, but the original Google maps. Time will obviously tell how successful it is in the long run, but the good news for iOS6 users is that it’s over. Hopefully never again will you be scorched in the Australian sun or directed away from Angel tube station.
In next week’s thrilling episode of my blog… will Nokia maps kill everyone?