Now that Google Maps is back on iOS 6, we believe that everyone should try it just on general principle. After all, even Apple itself fired Richard Williamson, the guy who managed Apple's own Map App after that disastrous snafu. And after taking it for a spin, the CRN Test Center found Google Maps for iOS 6 to be speedier, more informative and better looking than Apple's Map App.
The moment we heard last week that a version of Google Maps had been posted to the App Store, we immediately went for a look. And what we found was the familiar interface of before -- complete with Street View -- plus a few enhancements. First and foremost, Google Maps for iOS 6 now includes turn-by-turn navigation, which until now had been available only to Android users. To start, one simply enters a destination address or taps on a search result, of say, pizza.
Also new to Google Maps for iOS 6, search results appear on a scrollable bar along the bottom of the screen, with each result pinpointed on the map above. When scrolling between search results, the distance appears for a moment, and then is replaced by the travel time to the destination. For more information about the venue -- including its Street View -- simply drag the bar up (shown) as little or as much as you like. In Apple's Maps App, the map disappears when a "more info" screen is shown, as does Google Maps for Android, but it does not do so in Google's Maps for iOS 6 -- a subtle difference.
Both Google Maps for iOS 6 and Apple's Map Apps are free apps that work over Wi-Fi or data connections, allow favorites to be saved and show detailed maps with optional traffic overlays with high-traffic areas in yellow or red. In addition, heavily trafficked roadways on Apple's Map App also pulsate, which makes them stand out more. Score one for the Apple version, which has functioned well for us in the past. Both are intuitive and integrate searches across devices, and both get an automatic fix on their current location when initially launched.
Apple's Map App comes pre-installed with iOS 6, giving it a slight advantage in terms of initial user base. But Google Maps is just a free download away and delivers an untarnished reputation for accuracy of maps and directions, an interface that's just as intuitive as Apple's own, and Street Views of destinations for which there's sometimes no substitute.
PUBLISHED DEC. 17, 2012