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Google Maps for iOS is top free app, gets rave user reviews

It's been a good day for Google, as its long-awaited iPhone Maps app rockets to App Store glory amid five-star reviews.

Google long-awaited Maps app for the iPhone, is already topping Apple's app charts, proving that more than a few iOS customers are scrambling to get hold of the desperately needed app.

Visit iTunes today and you'll see Google Maps is top of the free iPhone app list, edging out Apple's own 12 Days of Christmas app and, er, ElfYourself.

Google was Apple's partner for its smart phone mapping service, but Tim Cook and pals ditched the big G when it released iOS 6, making its own app instead using information from TomTom.

Unfortunately that app was horrible, packed full of incorrect or old information, unsightly satellite imagery and hard-to-decode onscreen icons. The change was embarrassing enough to provoke a public apology from Apple boss Tim Cook, and preceded the sacking of several key Apple employees who were involved with the app.

Google's alternative took a while to arrive, but it seems to have been worth the wait, garnering immensely positive reviews from relieved Apple customers.

At the time of writing, the app has an average rating of four and a half stars out of five, based on a whopping 3,496 ratings. Of those ratings, 3,049 delivered a five-star score.

"It's been a long time coming", one review says, "but finally the king of online mapping has returned to iOS!" Another simply writes, "So happy I have a maps app that works and with good picture resolution."

Not everyone is chuffed -- one three star review says, "the framerate of the application is not as good as Apple's own Maps solution," while others bemoan the lack of interaction with your phone's contacts.

I've been using the app within central London and have had a pleasant experience so far -- a clear interface and quick access to public transport information make all the difference, while the compass-led street view option makes Google's on-the-ground mapping more useful than it ever was in iOS 5.

The only serious omission is offline maps, which was never present on the iPhone's default maps app, but has been a dead useful Android mainstay for ages now. Here's hoping Google adds the ability to save swathes of turf for offline viewing in the near future.

It's been a good day for apps, with Apple naming the top apps of 2012. WhatsApp is the year's most popular paid app, while Airbnb was handed the app of the year award.

Are you pleased with Google Maps for iOS? Pop your own review in the comments, or sound off on our Facebook wall.