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Google Maps app finally available on iPhone with iOS 6

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After a fair few months of users’ disdain for Apple Maps, Google Maps has finally returned to iOS by means of a free app download.

Some sort of clever trick or workaround this is not; it’s the real deal, built by Google for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Apple’s latest iOS 6 software. We’ve heard rumours of Google Maps making a comeback for a while, though it seemed that Apple kept knocking it back.

Pre-iOS 6 users will notice stark differences in the app from the get-go. Google has completely overhauled the app with a new look, new features and more to really give Apple Maps a run for its money. From our first impressions, this is looking set to be one of the best mapping applications for a mobile device to date.

The app prompts you to sign in to an existing Google account upon first startup, which will give you access to past location searches and routes from Google on any other device, as well as the ability to sync favourites and new routes from your iOS device to your PC.

All the usual features you’d expect to find in Google Maps are there, including Public Transport information, Google Earth, Zagat restaurant reviews and turn-by-turn directions, courtesy of a beta version of Google Navigation.

Google has changed some stuff under the hood to make sure Google Maps is as fast and as data efficient as it can be. Rather than being a web service encased in an app, this is a standalone app in its own right. Furthermore, Google has switched from tiles to vectors for graphics, which means map data will load much faster and at the same time won’t use up a ton of your data allowance.

Unlike Nokia’s new HERE mapping application, Google Maps doesn’t have the ability to save maps or directions offline for use when you don’t have signal or Wi-Fi. However, the app is capable of ‘caching’ direction information so that you don’t lose your route when you go through a tunnel, for example.

Our favourite feature is probably one that’ll make you laugh; shake your iPhone while in the app and Google will offer you the option to report a problem to them!

Google Maps is available to download for free now from the App Store.