Just three months after Apple unceremoniously dropped Google’s maps app from its iPhone, the Californian tech giant has done something of a U-turn.
No doubt motivated by a barrage of criticism since Apple ditched Google in favour of its own app, the smartphone maker has now returned Google’s popular mapping system to its gizmos.
It will surely come as a relief to iPhone users who have had to make do with a mapping system which has been widely condemned by critics, and even labelled dangerous by police in Australia. Lots of people were, literally, lost without the Google app.
People trying to find destinations using Apple’s service had complained it contained numerous errors with locations either missing completely or in the wrong place.
And, this week, the row took another turn after Australian police said users could lose their lives trying to find the town of Mildura in Victoria as it was listed miles away in the wilderness, with some motorists having become stranded for up to 24 hours in scorching temperatures.
Apple has now put right that particular error after police contacted the company to outline how dangerous it was – and it turns out the fault was partly because there are two entries for Mildura in the official Australian Gazetteer – one for Mildura itself and one for Mildura Rural Centre.
In a recent interview about the whole mapping fiasco, Apple boss Tim Cook said the company had “screwed up” with Maps and was now “putting the entire weight of the company behind correcting it”.
But, along with correcting its own error, Apple seems to have had a change of heart on including Google’s mapping app.
When the first iPhone was released back in 2007, Google maps came pre-installed and were included in every software update until September this year. Now, you can download Google’s new maps app through Apple’s App Store.
The download is free and improves the last version of Google maps seen in iOS 5.
It is thought part of the reason Apple decided to release its own mapping app is because of a reluctance to allow Google to get its hands on valuable data it receives through mapping.
The new Google app collects data anonymously but there are also lots of prompts asking you to login to your Google account so it can add location-based data. If you do choose to sign in, it means you can turn on useful features like storing your home and work addresses – although bear in mind if you lose your phone and it falls into the wrong hands, it will have those details stored on it.
The important basics are right though – with railway stations and restaurants in all in the right places.
In a blog post, Google says: “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. The app shows some map on-screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience. It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views.”