Google Maps are back on iPhones – thanks to a new app unveiled by Google on Wednesday night.

“People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone,” Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) reported in a blog.

“Starting [Wednesday], we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.”

And if the map info is not accurate, Google says users can notify them with a “shake” of their phone.

“The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive,” Google reported.

“Here’s a helpful hint for the new app: if you see something off, simply shake your phone to send us feedback.”

Google’s app is for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices, restoring a popular tool the smartphone maker replaced with its own in September.

The free Google Maps app is available in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, Google said. Google was widely expected to introduce its own app after the new version of Apple’s iOS mobile software removed the built-in software.

“The app shows more map on screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience,” Google said.

“It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views. The search box at the top is a good place to start—perhaps by entering the name of a new and interesting restaurant. An expandable info sheet at the bottom shows the address, opening hours, ratings and reviews, images, directions and other information.

 ”At the heart of this app is our constantly improving map of the world that includes detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest. Preview where you want to go with Street View and see inside places with Business Photos to decide on a table or see if it’s better at the bar. To get you there, you’ve got voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions to avoid the jams and if you want to use public transportation, find information for more than one million public transit stops.”

The original app, powered by Google, was an essential feature since the iPhone’s debut in 2007. Critics faulted Apple’s new application for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and lack of public transit directions, prompting Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to issue a rare apology to consumers.

“It’s embarrassing for Apple to reuse Google’s map application as it suggests Apple failed to meet market expectations,” said Hwang Min-Seong, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Samsung Securities Co. “This shows how much harder Apple had to push itself to come up with great innovations, only for it to end up as a big mistake.”

Tom Neumayr, a spokesman at Apple, declined to comment.

IOS, Android

 Apple added new features such as turn-by-turn navigation and fly-over views of landscapes into its program. IOS software runs iPhones and iPads, which compete with smartphones and tablets running Google’s Android operating system. Google is also the owner of the world’s most-popular search engine.

Apple is seeking to build confidence in iOS amid a growing battle with Google, which provides the Android platform to mobile-phone makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. for free.

Booming demand for Android-based smartphones is helping Google add share at the expense of other software providers, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Dec. 11 in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York.

Android snared 72 percent of the market in the third quarter, while Apple had 14 percent, according to Gartner Inc. Customers are activating more than 1.3 million Android devices a day, Schmidt said.

‘Their Call’

While Apple’s map program doesn’t appear to have hurt sales of the iPhone 5, Cook said he was “extremely sorry for the frustration” the app caused consumers. “We are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Cook wrote in a letter to customers posted on its website.

Schmidt said Sept. 25 that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps.

“It would have been better if they had kept ours,” Schmidt said in Tokyo. “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Google has been building out its online mapping software since 2005, using cars and satellites to accumulate data that helps improve its accuracy and reliability.

A team at Apple has been working to fix the mapping mistakes, focusing first on some of the most glaring problems, said one person familiar with the matter. The satellite imagery over the U.K. has been improved, and labels for popular U.S. landmarks such as the Washington Monument have been corrected.

TomTom Shares

Apple, which also eliminated the pre-installed app for Google’s YouTube video service, built the replacement map program because it wanted to scale back its relationship with Google, two people familiar with Apple’s development of maps said in September. Google then separately released its YouTube app for the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s bungled introduction of new mapping features contributed to the ouster of mobile-software chief Scott Forstall, whose departure was announced in October.
In the past few years, Apple has acquired small mapping companies including C3 Technologies, Poly9 and Placebase. Apple is licensing location information from TomTom NV and OpenStreetMap.

Shares of TomTom, the Dutch supplier of navigation applications, rose the most in eight weeks in Amsterdam yesterday after an analyst at Rabobank International said the U.S. company may make a takeover bid.

There’s a 30 percent chance Apple will seek a purchase because the Dutch software maker has the capacity to make speedy changes to correct any mapping errors or create new functions, Hans Slob, an Utrecht, Netherlands-based analyst at Rabobank, said yesterday in a research report.

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)