New use of 3D Touch lets you zoom through online maps

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Poison Maps exposes more potential in 3D Touch.
Photo: Poison Maps

The developers of the Poison Maps app figured out a new way to implement 3D Touch that goes above and beyond what we’re used to seeing. They use two patent-pending gestures called “context zooming” and “context panning.” The first lets you quickly see the surrounding area of a particular location you’re zoomed in on without leaving that location, while the latter lets you move around in the surroundings and effortlessly focus in on somewhere new.

These gestures work using long presses. Since 3D Touch can sense varying amounts of force, Poison Apps cleverly uses the technology to adjust the zoom based on how hard you press.

Let’s say you’re looking at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. You know from using a standard maps app that if you pan around to see places nearby, it’s never easy trying to pan your way back to where you started. You could zoom out, but sometimes finer details get lost.

In practice, the 3D Touch gesture works great. Browsing the Empire State Building in New York, I was able to quickly get a glance of where I was in New York. Then as soon as I lift my finger, Poison Maps glides me back to my zoomed-in position. Even cooler is the ability to pan around using context panning. When you force press once to zoom out of a location, a red box outlines the original view. However, if you keep using 3D Touch while moving your finger around, the red box will follow you. Then just lift your finger to drop in to that zoom level in the new area that you placed it.

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Context panning preserves your zoom level while browsing expanded areas.
Photo: Poison Maps

These features alone make Poison Maps one of the best browsing experiences in a maps application. They beg the question: why didn’t Apple think to implement 3D Touch like this into Maps? This would especially be handy on the Apple Watch where pinching to zoom is near impossible.

It’s refreshing to see developers taking 3D Touch to new heights. Since its debut in the iPhone 6s, we’ve only really seen 3D Touch implemented in two different ways: for application shortcuts on the Home screen or to Peek and Pop into content within apps. There is so much more to be taken advantage of in this radical new addition to the iPhone’s UI.

Poison Maps in general focuses on finding points of interest nearby. It’s not the prettiest app out there, but it works well for getting to exactly what you’re looking for when traveling. If you want to get it for yourself (or just try out the unique 3D Touch feature) the app is free for individual geographic areas or $1.99 for the full version.