Google's new version of its Maps app for iPhones and iPads has been launched, just six days after the company unveiled its latest Maps app for Android.
The updated iOS Maps app, Version 2.0, includes enhanced search and navigation capabilities, as well as Google's "first dedicated iPad mapping experience," according to a July 16 post by Daniel Graf, the director of Google Maps, on the Google Lat Long Blog.
"With your new Google Maps app for iPhone and iPad, you'll find it even easier to explore new places, discover local favorites, and navigate your world," wrote Graf.
The new Maps app for iOS can be downloaded now from the Apple App Store, according to the post.
The optimized iPad integration "brings all the features of Google Maps, including Street View, to a larger screen, which makes exploring the world from the comfort of your living room engaging and fun," wrote Graf. "Go from the Colosseum to your local pizza joint in just a few taps."
The enhanced navigation features mean that iPhone users can access Google Maps to find out what is happening real time amid the traffic they are traveling in, wrote Graf. The live updates will provide users with live incident reports on road closures, construction, accidents, and other delays and incidents, he wrote. "And as always, you've got voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation, and live traffic conditions right on the map. If you prefer public transportation, Google Maps has schedule information for more than one million public transit stops around the world."
The iPhone and iPad version gets some of the other key features that were just released earlier this month in the Android version of the Google Maps app, including a new "explore" option that allows users to visually browse and discover new places without typing. Instead, users can tap the search box, and they'll see pop-up "cards" that display nearby places to eat, drink, sleep and shop.
Also introduced into the iOS version from the Android version is a new 5.0 star rating system that gives users Zagat's ratings on restaurants, bars, cafes and other destinations. Reviews from friends and acquaintances are also available through the app.
Another new feature is the availability of mobile offers and discounts from national brands like Macy's, Michael's and Toys "R" Us that are presented and labeled on the user's map screen, wrote Graf. Some of the new features are not available in all countries.
Interestingly, Google's unveiling of the Android version of the app on July 10 didn't happen without controversy. Within hours of releasing the new Android Maps app—which had been stripped of its offline maps function—the company rushed an update that restored the missing function after it heard a barrage of criticism from angry users of the feature.
That initial feedback caused Google to change its course, a company spokesman told eWEEK. "After seeing some of the comments and reactions of users around the world who were missing the offline functionality, our engineering team worked around the clock to develop an easier way to cache a map for offline use," the spokesman stated.
In May, Google unveiled innovative updates for Google Maps at its annual Google I/O Developers Conference, including a more interactive look and feel. The new Google Maps takes a novel approach to how people use online and mobile maps, gaining the ability to instantly respond to user inputs, making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry. The next generation of the Maps service essentially will create a map that is unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user.
In March, Google unveiled its first big update of its young Google Maps for iPhone app, adding several new features to the stand-alone mapping app that Google introduced in December 2012 to work with Apple's latest iOS 6 mobile operating system. The December 2012 app debut followed Apple's announcement in May 2012 that it would drop the native Google Maps app that had been part of iOS since the arrival of the first iPhones so that the company could introduce its own maps app.
The arrival of the Apple Maps app in iOS 6, however, was met with many complaints and criticisms from users, who bashed its lack of accuracy and geographic details. The public relations problem was so bad at the time that Apple CEO Tim Cook even offered a public apology for the problems and vowed that they would eventually be resolved.