Google Maps are back in Apple's App Store, baby -- and back on the iPhone and iPad, where they belong. And I couldn't be happier.
You may recall the outrage that Apple generated in September when it ditched Google as its default map app in the iOS 6 release. (See: Apple's Map Data Is Big, but Not So Sweet.) Apple's map app had some serious problems, as well as what some described as hilariously awkward satellite photography.
One of the big complaints, aside from the fact that many of the directions it provided were just plain wrong, was the app's lack of public transit information. And just two days ago, Australian police warned the dubious app could actually be "life threatening." The app directed motorists heading to Mildura, Australia, into the middle of a national park instead. Several motorists had to be rescued from the park, which police say has no water supply and where temperatures can reach 114 degrees Fahrenheit.
And you wonder why I'm happy to have Google Maps back?
Google's native Google Maps app arrived in the Apple App store late Wednesday night. It's even better than ever, with additions like turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation. In a Google blog post on the Google Maps for iOS launch, the company states:
People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we're pleased to announce that Google Maps is here -- rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It's designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you're looking for faster and easier.
Someone is getting the last laugh here -- and it's not Apple.
I downloaded the Google Maps app within hours of its return, and I happily displayed it to my family over breakfast yesterday. I don't care if some of Google's uses of its map information have been described as creepy. Blame it on Google's use of mobility-enabled contextualized data. Ed Parsons, a geospatial technologist at Google, explained to us this year that such data lends a predictive potential and the promise that no two maps will be alike.
Yesterday, Google Maps project manager Kai Hansen told the BBC, "Google Maps, as much as any other map application, lives from the data that we receive."
OK. I get it. It's Big Brother-ish. The folks at Google are data thieves, intent on stealing everything and paying for nothing. But at least I'll know what train to catch home.