I had a buddy text me the other night wondering if there was a way to make Google Maps default in iPhone. If you’ve used Apple Maps for any stretch of time, you’ve probably been misguided at some point. It’s happened to me several times. Apple Maps tried to send through a brick wall….literally. Yes, Apple Maps is pretty. But I need it to work and get me where I need to go. The Google Maps app always seemed to get the job done. I agreed with my friend, it would be great to make Google Maps the default map app for iPhone. But can it be done? Well, sorta.
If your iPhone is Jailbroken
If you’re phone is ‘Jailbroken’, you have some options (iOS jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on Apple devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits).
For jailbreakers, there’s a simple tweak called MapsOpener that you can download from the Cydia store. It’s a free download, and once it’s installed, it’ll automatically route mapping information from other apps directly to Google Maps instead of Apple Maps. There’s no settings you have to change or anything like that — the tweak will just start working as advertised. However, it does have an issue where it won’t properly display an address from your contacts as well as Apple Maps does, but overall, the tweak is a must-have for jailbreakers looking to get away from Apple’s solution. The video below does a good job explaining how it works.
If your iPhone is not Jailbroken
For non-jailbreakers, you aren’t completely left out of the equation. There are a couple of tweaks you can try out, and figure out which is more convenient or which one works the best for your needs. However, they don’t technically make Google Maps the default maps app on iOS, but these tweaks will integrate with Siri, making it easier to get directions on the fly.
The first non-jailbreak tweak involves simply adding “via transit” to your command in Siri:
“Give me directions to the nearest Apple Store via transit.”
Siri will initially open Apple Maps, but will immediately switch to a list of “transport apps” where it will list Google Maps, and from there, you can click “route” and it will give you transit directions with Google Maps. From there, you can select car directions or walking directions from the top.
The second non-jailbreak tweak is an easy one, but it’s a little complicated to gather your head around, since it involves several workarounds. Essentially, you save a custom URL as a contact, and ask Siri to find it. When she does, she can launch it and that’ll bring up Google Maps with directions from your current location. It’s certainly not a perfect solution and it only works with addresses you already know, like your home or work address, but it can still be handy when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and need to find your way home.
It would be nice if Apple played nice and allowed Google Maps be allowed default. Those from Google agree.
Google’s Eric Schmidt had this to say at a recent conference:
We would still really like them to use our maps. It would be easy for them to take the app in the store and put it as their basic one.