For vendors of alternatives to Google Maps, now that the new app is available for iPhone users, their odds of converting new users over to their products is probably closed, according to Hazelton. "In that time period where Google Maps was not available, it did give some opportunities to alternatives, but because they were all Web-based apps and they were not native I don't expect that the customers they were able to get will remain with them."
Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, said the return of the Google Maps app is "great for users but not for Apple" because of the repercussions caused by the maps app omission in iOS6.
"The Apple Maps app was a disaster," said Lopez. "It was one of the few products they've released that just missed the mark. This definitely won't put the maps issue aside for Apple, but will help its users."
At the same time, more maps features that haven't yet been thought of are still likely to come for users, she said. "Better location services will be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, so we aren't even close to [development] being over in terms of innovation. We are merely at the beginning."
Available through Apple’s App Store portal online, Google Maps offers local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit information, Street View and live traffic information. The application also features a sign-in option that allows users to call up previous searches and directions made from the user’s computer.
Apple had replaced the application with its own in-house maps app that was met with derision upon its release, eventually forcing a public apology from company CEO Tim Cook and a restructuring of company management. In a recent interview with NBC News, Cook admitted the app failed to meet customer expectations and their own, but Apple was throwing the “weight of the company” behind correcting it.
One feature the Google application does not have is Flyover, an Apple invention that was designed to provide a 3D, photorealistic view of city landscapes. However, even that impressive-sounding feature was criticized by Web reviews after screenshots of a collapsed-looking Brooklyn Bridge and other less-than-realistic renderings surfaced.
Google is riding to Apple’s rescue just as the iPhone maker’s maps app hit headlines again, when Australian police cautioned its fellow countrymen’s users not to employ the app while in certain parts of the country. Police in Mildura, a city in northwestern Victoria, were called to assist distressed motorists who became stranded within Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions provided by the application, leading the department to ask drivers to refrain from using the app.