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Google Maps now available on Apple Watch

Maps update adds Apple Watch compatibility, estimated times of arrival for various transportation and other features.

Google Maps comes to Apple Watch. Scott Stein/CNET

Google Maps has found its way from the iPhone to Apple Watch, thanks to an update to Google's iOS map app released Tuesday.

Apple Watch compatibility was added to version 4.11.0 of the tech giant's iOS Maps app, offering owners of Apple's smartwatch the opportunity to look up directions from their wrists. The update also adds estimated times of arrival for trips made by bike, car, public transit and walking, as well as the ability to call businesses and get directions from a list of places.

Until now Apple Maps was the only option for Apple Watch owners who wanted directions from their wrist watch. In the three years since Cupertino, California-based Apple broke away from bundling Google Maps into iOS, its replacement, Apple Maps, has made improvements, but for many users of Apple's mobile operating system, Apple Maps was no match for Google Maps.

Mountain View, California-based Google provided the maps function for iOS devices until the release of iOS 6 in fall 2012, when it was replaced by Apple's homegrown mapping software. But Apple's maps were found to be rife with embarrassing errors, leading CEO Tim Cook to issue a rare public apology.

Apple retreated on claims that the app was the "most powerful mapping service ever" and even began promoting other maps apps in its App Store. In late 2012, Google Maps returned to Apple's mobile software in the form of a standalone app.

But there are certainly differences between how the competing apps direct users to their destination. While Apple takes advantage of its Taptic Engine in the Apple Watch to give users a light tap on the wrist to tell them whether to turn left or right, Google Maps requires users to scroll through the list of turn-by-turn directions.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new functionality of Google Maps.

The app is available for free download from Apple's App Store.