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Thursday, December 13, 2012, 02:00 am PT (05:00 am ET)

New Google Maps for iOS brings vectors, transit and navigation features


Google Transit



For cities where Google presents useful transit data, the new Google Maps offers integrated transit lines and stop information. Apple's Maps present only sporadic metro stop markers and must rely on third party transit apps to calculate routes.

Apple's approach provides users with more options to obtain route information (useful in cities where Google presents incorrect or no transit information), but lacks the simplicity of Google's integrated app.

As AppleInsider previously detailed, Google provides excellent transit data in some cities (such as Portland, Oregon, where Google Transit got started), provides fair information in others (unreliable Muni arrival times in San Francisco, no bus or tram data in Berlin outside the major U-bahn and S-bahn routes) and nothing more than metro stops in others (Google provides no transit data in Paris or the rest of France, for example).



Google Transit still delivers (below) the same nonsensical transit routing for Berlin we detailed earlier (above), because it doesn't incorporate transit data for most of the city's public transit vehicles.




With both Google Maps and Apple Maps, iOS users can now pick which approach works for them in the location they are navigating. Google provides detailed station and route information in Japan that Apple's Maps lack, for example, while in other cities Apple and its third party helper apps can calculate transit routes Google Maps doesn't.

Google Navigation



Also new in Google Maps for iOS is the company's turn by turn driving directions, which were previously kept as an exclusive feature for Android. Apple developed its own driving directions for iOS 6 Maps, with voice guidance and route timing based on live traffic data.



With Google Maps, users now have multiple options for driving directions. In initial testing, Apple's version appears slicker, with rich looking 2D or 3D map images tailored for driving.




Google's presentation is simpler, but clean and easy to read, with larger directional information. Both present route options with estimated driving times.




Google warns users that its driving directions are in beta, nothing that "directions may be inaccurate, incomplete, dangerous or prohibited," adding that "traffic data is not real-time, and location accuracy can not be guaranteed."



The company's warnings appeared aimed at deflecting the kind of sensational reporting that has dogged Apple's Maps, including a recent report that detailed how authorities in a bleak desert area of Australia have beseeched the global public not to go looking for a small town blindly using Apple's formerly incorrect directions, for fear they might drive into the desert with no food or water and limited gas, with full confidence in a GPS app to shield them from any sort of unforeseen consequences of their poor planning (something people have been doing for nearly a decade prior to the release of Apple's Maps).

Now that Google (and Nokia) have released their own standalone maps clients for iOS, AppleInsider can continue its detailed comparison of Apple Maps and other mapping options for local search, driving directions and traffic data.

Introducing iOS 6.0 Maps
Using Maps Offline
2: Maps and visualizations
3: Transit directions
4: Map labels & local search
5: Routing & traffic