The app introduces a couple of new shiny features, but it is also a step back
One of the worst kept secrets about iOS 6 is the fact that it kicks out Google Maps. It was a long time coming and there are plenty of obvious reasons why Apple needed to do this. The one reason why it hasn't done it before is that it wasn't able to offer something on par with Google Maps.Apple thinks it can now and even adds some features missing from Maps, though it skips on a couple as well. Google Maps was the only built-in app in iOS that Apple didn't fully control.
For that alone, even if it wasn't coming from Google, Apple should have wanted to kick it out. The fact that it came from Google, its mortal enemy in the mobile space, only made the need more urgent.
By offering its own mapping solution, it ensures that Google is, for one, left out of the picture and, two, down quite a few users. What's more, it also means that developers will have to switch to Apple's solution when embedding a map in apps.
It remains to be seen though whether the move is good for users as well. There are a few shiny new features to lure in Apple fans. The 3D panoramic view, dubbed Flyover certainly looks great and reports say that it's quite smooth in practice as well.
Google Maps offers 3D buildings too, the Apple app just has better models, in the places where 3D buildings are available, which aren't many, and much better textures.
But Google has already shown that it's working on just the same thing and that much better 3D models and textures are landing in Maps soon.
Apple's maps app also adds vector-based tiles, rather than static images like the iOS Google Maps app provides. The Android version has had vector tiles for several months now. Also new is turn-by-turn navigation, yet another feature missing from the iOS version of Maps but available in the Android build.
One big thing that's missing though is public transport information and directions. This means that people relying on this info to get around town will find Apple's map app a step back. Apple says that it's working with third-party developers to add this data.
Overall, the Apple maps app is not a huge step forward over Google Maps. The only things it can boast about are either things that Maps offers on Android or on that Google is already working on.
But the sole fact that Apple can boast about these things is proof enough that Google could have done a better job on iOS, the only reason Apple needed to go its own way. Of course, Google could have let the iOS Maps app lag behind precisely because it knew it would be replaced.