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July 17, 2013

Google Maps for iPad

Almost one year after Google Maps was removed from iOS and 7 months after Google released a Maps app for iPhone, you can finally install the Google Maps app on an iPad and actually use it. Installing the iPhone app on an iPad wasn't a good idea, so the web app was a good alternative.

It's interesting to notice that the new Maps UI was first included in the Google Maps for iPhone. After that, Google used it in Google Maps Engine Lite, then in the new desktop Google Maps, in the updated app for Android and now the circle is closed.

The updated Google Maps app for iPhone and iPad looks just like the Android app and has almost the same features: incident reporting, dynamic rerouting, integration with Zagat and Google Offers, Google+ recommendations, the "explore" feature that lets you find great places without searching for them, biking directions and navigation, offline maps (type OK maps in the search box).

To open the "explore" section, tap the search box and select "explore". Then you can tap "eat", "drink", "shop", "play" or "sleep" and find a lot of useful suggestions. Many of them are influenced by the reviews of the people from your Google+ circles.

The full-screen map provides an immersive experience.

There's support for incident reports, although it's not clear if the new feature has anything to do with the Waze acquisition.

Google Maps still supports layers, but not all the layers from the old Android app. There are layers for traffic, public transit, bicycling and satellite maps.

When you first launch the app, Google Maps shows the following screen. The option to improve Google Maps by sharing anonymous location data is enabled by default. This means that Google no longer has to rely on Android devices to get traffic data. A similar option was displayed last year, when Google Maps for iOS was launched, so it's not new.

A year ago, things were very different: Google Maps for Android was a lot more powerful than the built-in Maps app for iOS powered by Google Maps data. Now Google Maps apps for Android and iOS have almost the same features. Can you find some features that are only available in the Android app?

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