Most of you know about Google Maps. It’s Google’s Rocky Balboa, the comeback after that new kid on the block showed up – Apple Maps. It’s a great app, and it’s so great that it made our Best iPhone Apps list.
With that said, I’ll assume that you are already aware of the basic features of Google Maps – after all, it’s pretty simple. By merging the best elements of the browser-based version of the app with standard GPS functionality, Google has concocted a highly reliable piece of mobile navigation software – Google maps for iPhone.
You can search for an address, a location name, or even a general type of destination (e.g. “restaurant”), and the app will present several time-based route options via car, public transit, or foot. Directions are displayed on an aesthetically-pleasing 3D map, but for those of you who struggle with multi-tasking, a non-Siri voice can lead the way.
Other features that the mobile version offers include the ability to view current traffic conditions, public transit lines, and satellite images. You can even open a location up from Google Maps into Google Earth, and step-by-step directions are viewable before you even go out the door.
More practically, you can save certain locations as favorites. Personally, I find this feature to be one of the best ones, and I actually have my daily commute starred away. Why is that? While I already know how to get where I’m going, I’m able to get current updates on the time that it will take me to arrive each morning. This helps me decide if I ever need to make travel adjustments, and as someone who loves sleeping in, this happens more often than not.
The Overall Design
Google Maps appears to be designed very much like its browser-based version. The same colors, icons, and fonts all pop up in this app, and the user experience is actually quite similar. However, since it’s a mobile app, it puts a unique spin on things. Everything is touch intuitive, and feedback is rather organic.
Admittedly, the results of your accidental swipes can be rather annoying. If your finger just happens to touch the screen, the app will register the touch as if you are wanting to explore the map. This ultimately stops the navigation process, and you will have to tap the Resume button on-screen to get back on track. For users who make use of the voice instructions, this could be very problematic since it could ultimately cause a missed turn.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Google Maps is very well-designed, and there’s really no valid reason to question it. Despite the touch nuisance (which could possibly fixed), it’s a top-notch product.
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: Google Maps was created as an answer to Apple Maps. Another word for answer is solution, and a solution typically associated with a problem – a word that is commonly associated with Apple Maps. With that said, Google has been a longtime contender in the realm of global mapping, and its seniority shows with its mobile Maps app.
With reliable API and veteran experience in the navigation industry, there should really be no question as to whether or not Google Maps is practical. It is.
Google Maps for iPhone provides a fantastic experience for anyone who is out on the road, but as expected, it can fall victim to wireless connectivity issues. Even though it is a very solid app, it must rely on your mobile connection. As a warning, if the service is bad, then the app will likely be bad as well. Speaking from experience, I know of a few times where it appeared as though my car was in the middle of a field when I was obviously on the interstate.
Pro-tip: before you leave on your big trip, take screenshots of the step-by-step directions before you leave, and as always, keep a physical map for reference on standby.
I can only tell you so much, but I will say that Google Maps is the premier navigation app for the iPhone. If you need more convincing, check out our iOS Map Showdown that compares Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Nokia HERE. Coming from just a reviewer’s perspective, Google Maps is a stand-up piece of work, and it will definitely get you where you want to go.
What do you think of Google Maps? Do you think it should have made our Best iPhone Apps List? Is it a well-designed app? Let us know what you think in the comments.