Google Maps Returns to iPhone

Driving just got a whole lot easier for Apple lovers

By Lisa Fernandez and Scott McGrew
|  Thursday, Dec 13, 2012  |  Updated 2:18 PM EDT
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NBC Bay Area's Marla Tellez tests out the new Google Maps app, released Dec. 12, 2012.

NBC Bay Area's Marla Tellez tests out the new Google Maps app, released Dec. 12, 2012.

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Driving just got a whole lot easier for Apple lovers.

Late Wednesday, Google announced it revamped its map app for the iPhone, which will now do what drivers had hoped it would do on its original – and much loved – version: Talk you through your route with a robotic voice, instead of forcing you to look down in your lap for the turn-by-turn directions.

"We started from scratch," said Daniel Graf, mobile director of Google Maps, adding that there is no animosity with Apple over this issue. "On maps, we have a friendly relationship."

The news is huge for iPhone users, who love their phones but had hated the navigational options provided to them by Apple.

In mid-September, Apple had dumped the first-version of Google Maps from its phone.

Then, of course, there was the Apple Maps flap. Apple's app is still so bad that just this week the Australian police issued a warning to folks not to use it, calling it "life threatening," because the system was steering people looking for the city of Midura into a sweltering dessert 44 miles from their desired destination. And closer to home in San Jose – just a stone's throw from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino – the Apple Maps app still says that if you're at the corner of Branham and Meridian avenues, you are at Valley Christian High School, when you are actually at Branham High School.

Heads rolled at Apple because of it. Last month, Apple fired Richard Williamson, the manager responsible for the ridiculed app.

And even before that in September, Tim Cook issued a rare apology. Some say it was the worst moment in Apple history.

Apple is still working on its own maps app, and there's no telling when it may come out and how good it might be.

But for now, iPhone users can download the new Google maps on their phones and expect to get to Grandma's house in time for dinner with no wrong turns.

Google Maps is free for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It's not yet available for the iPad, but you can download the phone version onto the tablet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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