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Welcome back, Google Maps

GOOGLE Maps is back on my iPhone, and I’m very happy about that.

When Apple launched the iPhone 5 and rolled out IOS 6, it dumped Google Maps for its own maps app, which is a complete disaster.

I was actually relieved when Google surprised everyone by rolling the new app out in the middle of the night this week. I had been having visions of getting lost on back roads in the woods of Spotsylvania County on a cold January evening, having to depend on Apple Maps, and not being found till a spring thaw.

It’s not only back, it’s better than ever, complete with turn-by-turn voice directions from the Google Maps lady, who is more chipper than ever and eager to help. The previous Google Maps IOS app lacked voice directions. I had considered that alone a good reason to choose an Android phone, which did have Google Maps voice directions, over an iPhone even before Apple’s misguided decision to go with its own map app.

Sometimes the new IOS 6 Google Maps lady seems a little too eager—like maybe she’s been drinking too much coffee.

I got on Interstate 95 this week and she said perkily, in rapid- fire fashion, “Go 3 miles on I–95 North. Go 3 miles on I–95 North. Go 3 miles on I–95 North.”

God help you if you have to make a U– turn.

As part of a test, I drove around Central Park.

Google Maps lady: “Make a U–turn in 600 feet. Make a U–turn. Make a U–turn! Make a U–turn!!”

Me: “OK, OK! For the love of Pete! Get off my back!“

Google Maps lady: “You don’t have to yell at me! I’m just trying to help! (Sob!)”

Anyway, it’s been working well so far and I’m thrilled.

The only real glitch I’ve experienced with Google Maps on IOS 6

so far happened when I tested it by following its voice directions to the office. Everything went perfectly. It directed me turn by turn all the way into the building’s parking lot in Stafford County.

Then I walked in and got on an elevator. And as the elevator doors were closing, the Google Maps lady startled me by saying happily. “Turn right in 800 feet!” That probably would have caused me to dive through the elevator’s door if I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.

Since it’s not the default maps app, you can’t use Siri to access Google Maps directions.

That may be a good thing. Because if both Siri and the Google Maps lady were chirping at me at the same time, I’d probably make a U–turn into a tree.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163

mikez@freelancestar.com

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