By Khurram Aziz | Dec 14, 2012 09:53 AM EST
Google Maps is back on the iPhone and within hours it's become the most downloaded app on the iOS App Store, signalling the death knell for Apple's Maps.
Google's navigation service was unceremoniously dropped from Apple's store after the iOS 6 update was introduced with the latest iPhone 5 and replaced by the much maligned Apple Maps. However, Google persevered, reformulated the software and submitted it to Apple for approval.
Official download figures are unavailable, but, at the time of writing, the application has received close to 2,000 users reviews with an average rating of 4.5/5.
"People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone," Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps for Mobile announced via the official Google blog. "Starting today, we're pleased to announce that Google Maps is here. "It's designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you're looking for faster and easier."
Apple's decision to cut Google Maps, which had for so long been integrated with its iPhone and iPad devices, was widely seen as an aggressive tactic against its' rival in a global battle over dominance of the smartphone and tablet market.
However, the move massively backfired. Apple's Maps App, which replaced Google Maps has gone on to become a PR disaster for the Cupertino company - attacked for being inaccurate and a poor substitute for Google Maps.
The situation became so dire that in September, Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to issue a public apology on the company's website over the poorly performing navigation software, and it led directly to the dismissal of iOS boss Scott Forstall.
Apple told iPhone users to try navigation apps from alternative vendors, such as Nokia's Here maps, as it rushed to fix its own offering.
However, the criticism has kept on coming. Only this week police in Australia warned tourists not to rely on Apple Maps for navigation or they risk being stranded in the outback in life threatening situations.
With all this going on, iPhone users have been crying out for the return of Google Maps which is now fully optimised for Apple's latest handsets.
The app is compatible with devices running iOS 5.1 or later including the iPhone 5's much larger 4-inch display, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Google Maps also offers a raft of services, many of which are absent from Apple's offering, including Street View, Business Photos, live traffic conditions, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and public transport updates.
An iPad specific version of Google Maps is still in the works.