Google Maps for iOS already being tested outside Google

We've known for a while that Google plans to release its own Maps app for iOS devices. Considering the new Apple Maps' lack of polish and missing features, many are eagerly awaiting the Google replacement.

Well, good news. According to a story by the Wall Street Journal, the Google Maps app for iOS is already being tested externally—and a submission to the iOS App Store could be imminent.

Google has distributed a test version of its new mapping app that will work on Apple's iPhones to some individuals outside the company, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Google has been putting the finishing touches on the app before submitting it for approval to the Apple iTunes store, this person said, though it's unclear exactly when that will happen.

The Journal gathered another encouraging tidbit. Its source reportedly claims the Google app will have turn-by-turn directions—a feature that was absent from Apple's old, Google-powered Maps app, but which Android users have been enjoying for some time. The new Apple Maps app also has turn-by-turn directions, but some users have found its accuracy to be hit-and-miss.

Ever since biting the bullet and buying an iPhone 5, I've learned to live with the Apple service. I've even found a solid third-party replacement for the excised public transit directions functionality. If the Google app is any good, though, I expect I'll be making the switch as soon as I can. Apple no doubt has the resources to make its mapping service great, but right now, Google Maps is hard to beat.

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