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Google Maps Return to the iPhone

It’s supposed to include “detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest”

Google couldn't have picked a prettier time to release the upgraded version of Google Maps for iOS it's been working on since Apple kicked it off the iPhone and iPad in September in favor of its own dodgy Apple Maps that couldn't find the Eiffel Tower, utterly embarrassed the company, forced CEO Tim Cook to publicly apologize and fire the guy responsible.

Google Maps for iOS hit the Apple App Store late Wednesday hours after the Australian police labeled Apple Maps "life-threatening" for misdirecting motorists into a desolate Outback desert where you'd better have a four-wheel drive, extra gas and a few canteens to survive. Seems Apple Maps misplaced the town they were headed for.

Anyway, you can still hear the Halleluiah chorus that greeted the free Google Maps download. It's already the top app, embarrassing Apple some more.

So far, however, it only works on the iPhone and fourth-generation iPod Touch devices fitted with iOS 5.1. It does not work on the iPad yet.

It includes the voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation the previously pre-installed version lacked on the iPhone and iPad and is said to be pretty much on a par with Google's Android maps app, providing live traffic conditions, a quick birds-eye view of public transportation systems and fly-over views of landscapes.

It's supposed to include "detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest," even indoor photos of some businesses like restaurants.

It's available in upwards of 40 countries and 29 languages, including Spanish, Japanese, French and German.

To Apple's chagrin Google will be able to make money off ads and other revenue-generating services and worse it gets a very significant piece of the fundamental Apple ecosystem by supplying search, YouTube and now maps again.

The YouTube app currently available contains money-making video advertising.

Apple is working hard to redeem its honor and get its maps up to snuff. Considering the level of competition with Google, it doesn't want to rely on its widgetry. Apple's dilemma has created speculation that it might buy the publicly traded Tom-Tom whose location information it licenses.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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