Apple released today a twenty minute video showing more details on the user interface and capabilities of the iPhone, so we can all "get ready" for the launch next Friday. They talk about the maps application about three quarters of the way through. They say "one of the most useful tools available on the Internet today is maps (sic), and Google Maps on the iPhone is amazing". It does have a number of flashy user interface features that aren't available on other versions of Google Maps. A few quick observations from the demo. You can zoom in by double tapping or "pinching" the map (dragging two fingers apart), dragging with one finger will pan, and tapping with two fingers will zoom out. Of course the multi-touch interface is one of the most hyped features of the iPhone, and has been popular on other recently announced devices too (such as Microsoft's touch table). You can search for businesses by location using a single search field - in the demo they just type in "san francisco sushi". Pins fly in from the top of the screen to show each location. You can dial a restaurant that you've found, or get a route and show live traffic information. Of course it supports both imagery and street map views.
I had been deliberating about whether to get an iPhone, but think I've been seduced and will have to get one, despite its lack of GPS. Fortunately I have a group plan on Cingular (now AT&T) so I think I should be able to just add one more line to that group relatively cheaply, and keep my BlackBerry 8800 too. So I guess I'll be in line at the Apple Store in Denver on Friday next week - they go on sale at 6pm and there is no pre-booking or buying online (yet).