MOUNTAIN VIEW -- To the relief of iPhone users worldwide, Google (GOOG) announced Wednesday evening that it had begun rolling out its Maps app for iOS users, giving users of Apple's (AAPL) popular smartphone an alternative to the Cupertino company's competitor that angered enough customers to elicit an apology from CEO Tim Cook.
In a blog post Wednesday, Google announced that a Google Maps app was being rolled out to Apple's App Store in more than 40 countries. The new app will include voice-activated, turn-by-turn directions, which was previously only available on the Android version of apps, Google's mobile operating system competitor to Apple's iOS.
Google took pains in its blog post -- written by Daniel Graf, the director of Google Maps for mobile -- to play up the quality of it Maps app.
"The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive," it read.
iPhones had Google Maps as its native mapping application from 2007 until the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 6, arrived with the launch of the iPhone 5 in September. Immediately, iPhone users revolted at the incomplete maps included with Apple's offering, which have led to complaints from as far away as Australia, where a town's placement in the middle of a national park led a local official to say recently that it was dangerous to the lives of drivers.
Apple's CEO took the enormous step of apologizing to users of the service in late September, penning an open letter that said "With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short ... We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."
The head of Apple's mobile software, Scott Forstall -- who worked with late Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs at NeXT before moving to Apple when it bought the company in 1997 -- reportedly refused to sign on to the apology, leading to his resignation. Richard Williamson, who led the Maps effort and also worked at NeXT with Jobs and Forstall, also left the company.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last week, Cook was even blunter about the failure of the Maps application, saying that Apple had "screwed up."
"We set out to give the customer something to provide a better experience. And the truth is, it didn't live up to our expectations. We screwed up," he said.
Although asked, Cook declined to say much in last week's round of interviews about Apple's recent management shake-up, including the departure of Forstall.
The new Google Maps app is rolling out to the App Store, but did not seem to immediately be available to all customers Wednesday evening in the United States. It works with iPhones running iOS 5.1 or later as well as the fourth-generation iPod Touch.
Apple did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.