- Google Maps for Apple Watch has returned to the App Store after a three-year hiatus.
- It can take directions from your phone or provide quick access to home and work.
- It’s not quite as powerful as Apple Maps, but it is a major alternative.
It’s been a month since Google announced the return of Maps for Apple Watch, and now it’s finally here. Google has released the Apple Watch version of Maps (via 9to5Google) as part of an iOS app update, putting some common navigation options on your wrist.
This isn’t as independent from your iPhone as Apple Maps, but does provide many of the essentials for getting around town. You can quickly get directions to your home, work, and saved destinations. You’ll have to start navigation for any other destination on your phone, but Google Maps can provide detailed instructions in the Apple Watch app for driving, biking, public transportation, and walking.
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The app is a mostly well-behaved Apple Watch citizen, too, with vibration-based directional cues (similar to Apple Maps) and a complication to quickly start routing from your watch face. However, there are no live maps. Unlike Apple’s solution, you’ll need to check your iPhone if you need visual confirmation of where to turn. Otherwise, you’re limited to basic on-screen cues with icons and street names as your only reference points.
You won’t necessarily replace Apple Maps with Google’s app, then. That’s particularly true if you have a cellular Apple Watch and want to leave your iPhone at home for a quick walk to the store. This does give you a major alternative, though. It’s also good news if you’re a fan of Google’s ecosystem — you can use its mapping software on a smartwatch even if you aren’t using Wear OS.