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In an indication of iPhone owners’ exasperation with Apple’s maps, Google’s new alternative was already the top-ranking free app in Apple’s iTunes store early Thursday morning. By noon EDT, users had chimed in with more than 10,000 reviews of the Google app. Nearly 90 percent of them gave Google maps a five-star rating _ the highest possible grade.

The return of Google’s map app may even encourage more iPhone owners to upgrade to Apple’s latest mobile software, iOS 6. Some people resisted the new version because they didn’t want to lose access to the old Google mapping application built into iOS 5 and earlier versions.

After initially omitting Google’s new navigation tool, Apple added the app to its list of maps for the iPhone late Thursday afternoon.

Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., declined to comment about Google’s map app.

Graf said Google isn’t hoping to make Apple look bad with its new mapping app. “On maps, we have a friendly relationship,” he said.