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Google Maps app is back on iPhone!

A friend whom I have never met in person let me know the good news today – the Google Maps iPhone app has returned! SFGate.com says:

The release comes nearly three months after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps as the device’s built-in navigation system and inserted its own map software into the latest version of its mobile operating system.

Apple’s maps application proved to be far inferior to Google’s, turning what was supposed to be a setback for Google into a vindication.

The product’s shoddiness prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a rare public apology and recommend that iPhone owners consider using Google maps through a mobile Web browser or seek other alternatives until his company could fix the problems. Cook also replaced Scott Forstall, the executive in charge of Apple’s mobile operating system, after the company’s maps app became the subject of widespread ridicule.

OK. I don’t believe that the Apple Maps app is as bad as many people have reported. I also suspect dark, political machinations with regard to Apple’s firing of Scott Forstall, even though I have never had any love for the guy. Maps are data base-related products, and Apple (like Adobe, for example) is not generally recognized to be a data base company. One thing that Apple IS generally recognized to be is a notorious NIH (“Not Invented Here”  company!

The return of Google Maps to iPhone is viewed by some (me included) as a win-win! I admit to being a navigational junkie. I downloaded the Google Maps app BEFORE I even knew what capabilities were included.  SFGate.com says:

“We started from scratch,” said Daniel Graf, mobile director of Google Maps. Google engineers started working on the new app before Apple’s Sept. 19 ouster, Graf said, though he declined to be more specific.

The additional tools in the free iPhone app include turn-by-turn directions. Google’s previous refusal to include that popular feature on the iPhone app —while making it available for smartphones running on its own Android software— is believed to be one of the reasons Apple decided to develop its own technology. The increasing friction between Google and Apple as they jostle for leadership in the smartphone market also played a role in the mapping switch.

Google’s new iPhone mapping app also offers street-level photography of local neighborhoods, as well as three-dimensional views, public transit directions and listings for more than 80 million businesses around the world. The app still lacks some of the mapping features available on Android-powered phones, such as directions inside malls and other buildings.

All those improvements are positives for Apple too, <Greg> Sterling <an analyst at Opus Research> said, because the availability of a more comprehensive mapping option makes it less likely that iPhone owners will switch to Android devices.

“The irony is that Apple ended up getting a better version of Google Maps on its system by booting it off,” Sterling said. “At the same time, you could argue that Google is making a triumphant return to cheering crowds. So, in a way, everyone wins in this situation.”

The SFGate article notes that investors did not see anything positive for Apple in the latest developments. But you must remember – investors (and Wall Street analysts) are largely “maroons” with it comes to high tech. :-) Apple’s stock slid $9.31 to close at $529.84. Google’s stock, on the other hand, was up $5.14 to close at $702.70.

REAL competition among corporations is so rare that many folks do not recognize it when it happens! In this case, competition resulted in a better product for the customer – one of the things that competition is SUPPOSED to do! :-)

For now, iPad users can use the Google Maps app with the iPad in iPhone mode – there is still not app specifically for the iPad.

The new Google Maps app was already the top-ranking free app in the Apple App Store this morning. I downloaded it immediately.

By noon EDT, users had chimed in with more than 10,000 reviews of the Google app. Nearly 90 percent of them gave Google maps a five-star rating — the highest possible grade.

-Bill at

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