Google Maps is available for iOS

Google Maps is finally available for iOS. Which is nice, because Apple Maps is kind of horrible. Not as bad as some people would say, but definitely deficient in several key areas.

For me, the killer feature that Google Maps has over Apple Maps is Google's traffic reports. Apple does report traffic, but their version is kind of - well, useless. On Google Maps, you get four basic reports on traffic: unknown (blank), green, yellow, and red. Apple offers only three: blank, red, and red-orange. I'm not sure what the difference between red and red-orange is, but I think red-orange is worse than red? Maybe? Also, because it's entirely missing green, there's no way to tell the difference between "Apple has no data" and "there's no traffic here."

Other important features that Google Maps brings that Apple doesn't is public transport maps and Street View, both which make finding places easier. Plus Google's map data is better than Apple's, and their search is generally better.

But ignoring that, let's go straight to the actual app itself. The Google Maps app is clearly intended to ape an Android app rather than stick with iOS's general design philosophy - which really just means it's less "shiny" or more "flat colors." Not a big issue, just kind of interesting. Instead of using Apple's "page curl," you instead just tap the lower right corner and can select the options from the menu that pops out. This is actually somewhat faster than the silly page curl effect.

Google Maps also integrates with Google Earth, which is kind of cool. I guess. In that you can open Google Earth from Google Maps, and it will copy your current search over. Yay?

Next up there are the turn-by-turn directions. These don't integrate with iOS quite as well as Apple's version, but then again, that's probably because Apple literally won't let Google integrate them at all. So they only really work as long as you don't leave the Google Maps app, and the directions won't display in the status bar while other apps are running. But that's hardly Google's fault. The computerized voice that Google uses to give directions is much better than Siri's voice. I wonder if that's partly intentional on Apple's behalf, to make it clear that the instructions are computer-generated and not human? It's just something to notice.

Weirdly Google Maps doesn't have an iPad version, while Google Earth does. So you might want to hold off on updating you iPad to iOS 6 if you intend to keep using Google Maps.

In any case, it's nice to have Google Maps back on iOS. About the only thing Apple Maps does better than Google Maps is integrate with iOS - but that's only because Apple doesn't allow Google to do so.