googleThey say absence makes the heart grow fonder and after Apple’s replacement of Google Maps with its own controversial Maps app, Google Maps has made a welcome return to the App Store.

Google Maps is currently riding high as the number one app in the App Store and now includes voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation which was one of the best features of Apple’s own Maps app. The user interface has also changed and not necessarily for the better, with the option to switch between views now placed on the bottom right and with too small a touch area.

While Apple has the impressive but not hugely useful 3D feature, it’s the data, or relative lack of it, that caused considerable frustration among iPhone users. Indeed this writer is pleased to see that his home town is now back on the map!

Of course Apple’s data will improve over time as it gathers more user data and extends its partnerships both in terms of richness of data and international reach, but after one of its least successful product launches, the wave of relief at Google Map’s return is telling and there is plenty of catching up to do.

Thankfully great products are something Apple does rather well, so the competition from this setback should be good news for consumers.