One of the most embarrassing chapters in Apple's history has been covered with a Band-Aid. In what can only be a bittersweet milestone for iOS, the Google Maps app is now available in the App Store as a standalone app.
Anatomy of a split
From the release of the first iPhone through 2011's iOS 5, Google Maps served as the backend to the stock iOS Maps app. In the midst of the ugly rivalry between Apple and Google, Apple opted to drop Google from the app in iOS 6. Apple's replacement wasn't ready for primetime, and has been a tarnish on the company's image.
The split reportedly occurred because Apple wanted Google's voice turn-by-turn navigation, but Google wanted extra perks like Google branding and Google Latitude integration. So Apple, fresh off of buying maps company C3, went ahead with its own mapping solution.
The result was a disaster. Early reports of melted bridges and misplaced towns threatened to overshadow the iPhone 5's otherwise stellar launch. Just this week, police in Victoria, Australia, warned motorists about the dangers of using Apple Maps. The Maps fallout included a public apology from CEO Tim Cook, and the firing of iOS architect Scott Forstall and iOS Maps product manager Rich Williamson.
The new Google Maps app features voiced turn-by-turn navigation, as well as Street View and transit directions. It isn't a universal app, so iPad owners can only use the upscaled iPhone version.
Although the arrival of Google Maps in the App Store doesn't solve Apple's mapping problems, it should at least stop the bleeding.
Google Maps can be downloaded for free from the App Store.