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App of the Week: Google Maps is Even Better

by Brandon Russell | July 18, 2013July 18, 2013 5:00 pm PST

Google Maps for iOS—now on the iPad—is the most wonderfully amazing, best ever maps app available for the platform. There is no equal—there hasn’t been in some time, in mobile or on the desktop. When Google detailed improvements coming to the service back in May, it introduced plenty of changes: a new look, new features and even better navigation. The best got better; it’s easily one of the top apps in mobile. Period.

Everyone has their own personal preference and, no, I don’t have anything against Apple Maps. But with all the new features added in this week’s update—last week for Android—it’s clear Google Maps is the superior service. I use it everyday before work to check traffic, and now that it includes live incident reports and dynamic re-routing, it’s even more valuable during my long commute. And I consistently use it when seeking out new places; it was especially helpful during a recent trip to New York.

I wasn’t too keen on the changes Google made visually back in May, but having used it on desktop for the past month or more, it’s not a big deal. If you’re familiar with the experience on iPhone, Google has now moved the navigation area (Traffic, Settings, etc.) to the left side of the screen—you simply swipe over from the bottom left edge of the display, indicated by a little tab. There’s a search bar on top where you can seek out services and check out your history, a profile badge, and a quick directions link, too.

From what I can tell, the overall experience is still largely the same; the update won’t confuse users who are familiar with the previous version. On the iPad, using Google Maps is a dream—maybe better than the desktop in some ways. The extra screen real estate makes navigating cities super simple, and getting information on businesses has never been easier. There’s a persistent search bar up in the top left corner (it would be nice if you could swipe this away when navigating), along with a tab that brings up more options; otherwise, it’s essentially like using the desktop version, but with touch.

Other new additions include Zagat content, deals through Google Offers, and indoor maps with walking directions for mails, airports and more. You can even save offline maps in case you don’t have a data connection, via a little Easter egg—just type in “Ok Maps” in whatever city you want to save, and that’s it.

Google Maps 2.0 has raised the bar for quality and content, and it’s unlikely any competing service will be able unseat the incredible service anytime soon. If you haven’t checked out the new update (for iOS or Android) you should do so immediately. It’s easily one of the best mobile experiences you’ll have.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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