Apple Maps gets fancy new features for drivers, transit riders and tourists

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Certain launch cities will get highly detailed views in the iOS 15's updated Apple Maps
Certain launch cities will get highly detailed views in the iOS 15's updated Apple Maps
Photo: Apple

In iOS 15, Apple Maps will gain new features that make life easier for anybody using the app to navigate the world.

An interactive globe will give users a new way to dive into Apple Maps. Enhanced details will make driving safer and less confusing. And new features will make exploring certain cities simpler than ever.

“Our goal has always been to build the world’s best map,” said Meg Frost, product design director of Apple Maps, during Monday’s WWDC keynote. “So we looked at everything we’ve done so far and asked ourselves, ‘How can we push things even further?'”


Apple originally launched its Maps service in 2012 — and it was a total train wreck. Since then, Cupertino has worked tirelessly to fix glitches and add features. An updated version launched two years ago in some regions brought Apple Maps closer to parity with Google Maps. But Apple didn’t stop there.

Apple Maps in cities

Apple Maps in iOS 15 will deliver incredibly detailed views of particular cities. Monday’s demo showcased info-packed 3D imagery of San Francisco landmarks, for instance. There’s even a nighttime view with a moonlit glow.

“We think all of these improvements are going to make exploring cities so much fun for Maps users,” Frost said. “And when a user is ready to go somewhere, maps and iOS 15 will make getting their way better.”

Driving instructions get a boost

Drivers will benefit from extra-detailed road info in Apple Maps. You can expect to see things like turn lanes, medians and bus lanes more clearly delineated once iOS 15 lands.

“This outstanding attention to detail, including the addition of crosswalks and bike lanes, will help drivers more safely navigate complex intersections,” Frost said. “And when driving on highways, Maps now renders overlapping complex interchanges in three-dimensional space, making it much easier to see upcoming traffic conditions, or to know which lane you need to be in.”

Those new features will arrive when iOS 15 lands this fall. The new Apple Maps experience comes to CarPlay “later this year,” Frost said.

Better for transit riders, too

Augmented reality could put an end to bewildering exits from subway stations.
Augmented reality could put an end to bewildering exits from subway stations.
Photo: Apple

In iOS 15, the Apple Maps app will display much richer detail about transit stations. Riders can pin their favorite transit lines for quick access. And during a ride, the Maps app will work to keep you from missing the stop you need.

“Maps also automatically follows your transit route, notifying you it’s time to disembark as you approach your final destination,” Frost said.

Once you get off the train or bus, a cool new Apple Maps feature will help you get oriented. Simply scan the buildings around you with your iPhone, and Maps will position you precisely in the cityscape — and an augmented reality display will points the way to where you need to go.

If this works as advertised, it will prove unbelievably useful when you pop out of a subway station in a city you don’t know.

New Apple Maps coming soon … to some places, anyway

The bad news is, the upgraded Apple Maps experience isn’t available everywhere. In fact, the current version is only available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Portugal, with those last two countries added Monday. Frost said Italy and Australia will get the upgraded Apple Maps “later this year.”

The richer city information in iOS 15 will become available in London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C., by the end of the year, Frost said, “with many more to come next year.”