iOS users who have upgraded to iOS 6 or bought an iPhone 5 may suddenly be missing on a lot of Google Maps features previously available in the native app. Fortunately for us Android users, Google is religiously updating Maps for Android with more features and functionalities, such as Street View, turn-by-turn driving directions, public transportation, and the like.
But if you’re on iOS 6 or another platform, fret not. Google is still actively maintaining the mobile web version of Google Maps. Yes, that’s HTML5, and this means it’s cross-platform (assuming you have a compatible browser). If you’re using an iOS device or any other mobile devices with a capable browser, just fire up mobile Safari and head on to maps.google.com. NY Times‘ David Pogue says it’s still an acceptable alternative to the native app.
You won’t get spoken directions, but you’ll get written directions, public transportation details, live traffic reports and, of course, Google’s far superior maps and data. (In two weeks, you’ll be able to get Street View this way, too, says Google.)
As an update, Pogue says Google is enabling Street View from mobile web, which might be interesting for folks who want a virtual tour of interesting locations and cities around the world.
Now the question here is this. Facebook earlier eschewed HTML5 as a viable alternative to native apps. Mark Zuckerberg seems to have been very disappointed with the Facebook app on Android, which was essentially HTML5. But mobile web does offer cross-platform compatibility without the headaches associated with parallel development in different platforms.
Will mobile web be good enough for Google and for Google Maps users?