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Google updates and improves Maps on iOS

If you already have Google Maps on iOS you'll see a significant update today to version 3.0. If you don't have it, the new features may tempt you to give it a try. Some highlights:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation now offers lane guidance
  • Travel time, distance and ETA are all on the main screen at the same time
  • Contacts are now available through the app (hooray!)
  • Voice search using Google Voice Search is now supported
  • Maps can be saved offline to a custom list

Although Apple stumbled early with its Maps, it has continued to improve. Google certainly wants to own the maps market on iOS, so they have been highly motivated to improve the app, and this update is very competitive.

I tried the app on a short commute today and found it easy to use. I still prefer the Apple 3D road view, but Google Maps was easy to follow. Unlike Apple, you get a choice of satellite or drawn map views while driving. You can use Google Voice to find your nearest destination, and you'll get qualitative ratings of restaurants and retailers along with other points of interest. The voice for directions are clear, and the next turn on your route is bold and at the top of the screen. The app continues to work in the background. Transit results now display total walking time of your trip and the next scheduled bus or train, which is a very nice feature for urban users.

I think I still prefer Apple Maps, mostly because of the easy integration with Siri, and the look of the display, but Google Maps is still the gold standard and they have improved an already excellent app with this update.

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