To the relief of iPhone users worldwide, Google (GOOG) announced Wednesday evening that it had begun rolling out its Maps app for iOS users, giving users of Apple’s (AAPL) popular smartphone an alternative to the Cupertino company’s competitor that angered enough customers to elicit an apology from CEO Tim Cook.
Google Maps for iOS looks and functions more similarly to its Android counterpart than it does to the version that used to be bundled with iOS.
In a blog post Wednesday, Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps for mobile, said the new Google Maps app is now available in Apple App Store for iPhone and the 4th generation iPod Touch with iOS 5.1 and higher.
The app is available in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including Chinese and Japanese, he added.
“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,” Graf wrote.
If you’re having issues downloading the app, give it a few minutes. Within moments of its release, it appears as if Apple’s servers were briefly crushed, with some users finding it difficult to download the app.
The new app will include voice-activated, turn-by-turn directions, which was previously only available on the Android version of apps, Google’s mobile operating system competitor to Apple’s iOS.
Also, the new Google Maps’ maps are vector-based (like Apple Maps) so it should be snappier and speedier than the old app. So yes, this is awesome news all around. And we can now all pretend that the three month stretch of using Apple Maps never happened.
Apple’s CEO took the enormous step of apologizing to users of the service in late September, penning an open letter that said “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short … We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”
It was also reported that former Apple senior vice-president for iOS software, Scott Forstall, subsequently left the company for refusing to apologize for the Maps debacle.
Along with Google Maps for iOS, Google is releasing a Google Maps SDK for iOS and a URL scheme to get third party applications to launch the Google Maps app and perform searches, direction requests and display map views.
That’s a workaround that could allow Google Maps to act like the primary mapping system on the iPhone (clicking something in another app would launch Google Maps and not Apple Maps, for example).