Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Maps for iPhone 1.0

Google Maps for iPhone is now available, along with an SDK for iOS and a URL scheme. The map data is top notch, and I don’t understand the reviews stating that Apple’s rendering is better. In my view, Google’s maps are so much easier on the eyes, and with so much more information, that they totally outclass Apple’s offering. It’s like looking at a real map vs. a Fisher-Price one. Plus, of course, there are Street View and transit info.

The iOS 5 Maps app, though using Google’s data, was designed by Apple. I’m not a fan of Google’s Mac app interfaces, so I was a bit worried about what it would come up with for its app. It’s actually fine, though, and in some ways better than either of the Apple’s built-in Maps apps.

There’s one giant flaw, though: it doesn’t integrate with the iPhone’s Contacts database—or even with your Google contacts. Get ready for lots of Copy and Paste. (When traveling, I use a group in Contacts on the Mac to store all the locations that I plan to visit. Since tapping an address in Contacts on the phone will open Apple’s Maps app, I really need to be able to access the contacts list from within Google Maps.)

There’s also no iPad version, though I assume one is in the works.

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Now would also be a perfect time to expound on how importing the Bookmarks from what is now Apple Maps takes the integration of both Apple and Google instead of some careful engineering by Google and informed consent by the user.

If iOS 7 doesn't finally solve the app-to-app situation, I might have to skip to greener, bottier pastures.

@Jesper Yes, this is like has was just saying. In the old Mac days, Google could have read the bookmarks via AppleScript or reverse-engineered the file format. Now, they’re stuck unless Apple wants to cooperate.

Something that looks promising and I hope it will progress is the Google Maps SDK Kit. For instance, I need to use the Terrain mode for an app and this is no more available in the MapKit framework. So I will keep monitoring this SDK and wait for the availability of overlays, annotations and other fun stuff.

Terrain has never been available in the Map Kit framework. It was available to use from iPad Maps pre-iOS 6. The Google Maps iOS SDK looks like it has Terrain.

It was not officially available but could be used. Otherwise, Al Gore's app would not have been accepted.

[...] Maps for iPhone 1.1 is an improvement over version 1.0 in that it can now access contacts from your Google account. However, it only does this via search [...]

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