While yesterday's date of 12/12/12 was good luck for the numerically superstitious, it's today's date of 12/13 that's looking auspicious for me: Google Maps for the iPhone was finally made available today, at its good ol' price of zero dollars.
The Apple Maps debacle was a clear reminder that there are some areas where Apple can't out-design the competition, namely in raw data. Apple has my loyalty with most of the stuff they make, due to their unrelenting focus on the user experience: As I've steadily populated my parents' house, several states away, with Apple products over the years, I've experienced a steady decrease in those painful parental tech-support calls. But the Maps mess made clear that blind, across-the-board brand loyalty isn't the way to go.
So yes, no more trying to get crosstown directions and winding up with a destination in Kentucky. No more having to type every last letter of an address because Siri's silent partner is incapable of basic logic. The downside is that yes, there's no way to access Google Maps with Siri, meaning more typing; but I'd rather let my fingers do the walking, rather than my feet leading me in the wrong direction.
Get it while it's hot here.
Ed. Note: This is also a good opportunity to revisit our Case Study, "Google Maps: Designing the Modern Atlas.