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With Google Maps on the iPhone, the arrow points up

by Brad Spirrison

A brand spanking new Google Maps for the iPhone is here, is real and is fabulous.

You know the story by now. Prior to the announcement earlier this year of the iPhone 5 and new iOS 6 features, Apple turned up the heat on its boiling spat with Google by going its own direction for mobile mapping. Even at the time, Apple was questioned for fixing something that was far from broke. When the iPhone 5 came out in December, Apple’s new shiny map app was plagued with navigation errors (no Brooklyn Bridge, entire rivers missing from England, etc.)

One public apology and one executive purging later, Apple today approved a new and improved Google Maps app, now available to download. In his gushing review for the New York Times, technology columnist David Pogue declared that the free Google Map app is “fast and fantastic.” Digital navigation expertise, it seems, can’t be achieved overnight. This is true even for a company as brilliant and resourceful as Apple.

So, Google wins this high-stakes battle. But the war is still in its early stages. Apple by no means is getting out of the Maps space. Rather, Apple is acknowledging the miss, offering customers a better interim experience, and, as CEO Tim Cook told NBC’s Brian Williams last week, “putting the entire weight of the company” behind getting maps right.

This is a great thing for all of us. While Google Maps is obviously superior, it’s far from perfect. Apple has a strategic and psychic incentive to up its map game, which will force Google to perfect it’s already very satisfying product.

Now that’s a direction that should satisfy all of us.

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