(Pocket-lint) - Ever since iOS 6 was released, and with it the integration of Apple's own flawed Maps service, speculation has been rife over when Google would reintroduce an iPhone version of its own Maps app.
Yes, you could bodge around it by adding an icon to take you to the web page version. And yes, there have been other options. But, speculate no more, because a genuine, fully-featured Google Maps app has arrived for Apple smartphones and media players.
Sadly, there's no Google Maps for iPad app yet, but we're sure that'll soon follow. In the meantime, iPhone and iPod touch fans will be scrabbling to get the free version of the application for their devices. And it's a doozy.
It's speedy, has search firmly placed at the top of the map screen so you don't have to fiddle about with menus, and there's an information bar that can be swiped up to give you details on any location you choose - including, yes, Street View.
Google claims that the app also offers a "sharper-looking, vector-based map that loads quickly" and we can't argue with that. Both 2D and 3D views are available as options, and there are the traditional traffic and transport overlays that can be added. In short, it's what we've been waiting for. It is even iPhone 5 friendly, with the greater screen real estate catered for.
There's one drawback: you won't get the same experience as you did with iOS 5, simply because Apple Maps is still the default service, so current apps will rely on that if they include mapping data. However, Google has released a SDK for Google Maps for iPhone, so developers can incorporate the software giant's own mapping data into their applications from here on in.
And that's the crux of it. Google Maps for iPhone may offer a sleek look, but it is the wealth of accurate mapping data that Apple falls down on and Google can offer simply through experience. That is why this is a great day for iPhone users.
What do you think of the new Google Maps for iPhone? Let us know in the comments below...