A new Google Maps for iOS could be right around the corner

It looks like we’re inching closer to a Google Maps(s GOOG) app for iOS 6. Google has started to let people outside the company test a maps app that works on iOS, though it has not yet been submitted to Apple’s(s AAPL) App Store, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

This version of Google Maps for iOS is set to be a bit different than the version that Apple stopped including as a default application on the phone this fall: The new version Google is testing “is expected to contain turn-by-turn navigation,” according to one of the Journal‘s unnamed sources.

That was one of the critical features that Google had kept out of the older version of Google Maps for iOS 6 and it became a flashpoint in the partnership between Google and Apple to carry the app on the iPhone.

Apple replaced Google Maps for iOS with its own Apple Maps app, which has been roundly criticized since its debut. Apple has said it’s working on improving its app, but there are many longtime iPhone users who’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of Google Maps to the platform.

Some Google employees were reportedly “worried” last week that Apple wouldn’t approve this app. But, as I wrote then, those concerns are overblown. Apple will be under a lot of pressure to approve the app. The main question now is when it will arrive.