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Good Tidings Of Great Joy: Google Maps App Released For iPhone

Google's native maps app for the iPhone finally was released Wednesday, and there was much rejoicing. Just in time for Christmas, the three wise men are able to find the manger without spilling their frankincense or myrrh.

Unsurprisingly, reviewers like Google Maps better than Apple's maps app, which tends at times to strand travelers in vast and isolated areas.

What fascinates me about this mess is that the new Google Maps for iPhone is not only better than Apple's maps — it's also much better than the old Google Maps app that had been on the iPhone from Day 1. The new version loads faster and offers turn-by-turn directions — something Google had been offering Android users since 2010 — along with a host of other modern goodies.

So while it's fair to criticize Apple for releasing a half-baked and even marginally dangerous mapping app to the public, the move did force Google to finally offer up its "A" game to Apple's customers.

My holiday wish is that executives at both companies will realize that their bickering over maps tarnished them both. When you are raising kids, you're supposed to offer natural consequences for their actions, and I think we should treat corporate executives the same way.

So for now I am going to keep using Waze — it's a scrappy little independent mapping app that I've grown to love. It uses crowd sourcing to give you up-to-date information about traffic, including speed traps and other goodies, and it hasn't (yet) left me stranded in a national park. Crowd sourcing is a clever idea — and worth supporting. It's like giving the three wise men the help of nearby shepherds to guide them to their destination.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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