Apple Maps might gain customizable routes, topographic maps in iOS 18


Apple Maps
Useful new features are reportedly coming to Apple Maps in iOS 18.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple Maps could receive a pair of big updates this year: “Custom routes” and topographic maps. A developer from Argentina spotted the two new features recently in Apple code, saying they could arrive in iOS 18 and macOS 15.

If true, the changes will make Apple’s navigation application more useful for both drivers and hikers.

Apple Maps improvements for 2024

After a very rough launch way back in 2012, Cupertino continues to bolster Apple Maps. The company keeps adding new features that match or exceed competitors like Google Maps.

The next upgrade could bring a long-requested feature — custom routes — to Apple’s mapping service. And it could expand topographic maps data from Apple Watch to other Apple platforms.

Developer Nicolás Álvarez apparently spotted the Apple Maps upgrades and tipped off MacRumors.

‘Custom routes’ could let you specify favorite roadways

Apple Maps users know that the application already gives users some customization options. It presents drivers and walkers with a few possibilities to choose from and lets them avoid highways or toll roads. But Álvarez found a reference to “CustomRouteCreation” which will apparently go beyond what’s possible now.

What some users have been asking for is the ability to order the app to avoid certain areas even if that would lengthen the drive. Or to avoid left turns whenever possible on crowded roads. Or take a favorite road when it’s feasible.

These are just a few examples of possible additional custom route options. And perhaps they’ll be part of Apple’s navigation app in iOS 18.

Topographic maps coming to Apple Maps in iOS 18

Topographic maps arrived exclusively in watchOS 10, giving hikers access to detailed information like elevation levels about certain locations. Based on Álvarez’s tip, MacRumors reported Wednesday on the possibility of topographic maps coming to Apple Maps on iPhone, Mac and even the Apple Vision Pro headset.

“Backend topographic maps code was introduced last year, but only ‌watchOS 10‌ had the feature,” MacRumors wrote. “The code was dormant on iOS and macOS at that time, but in the backend files for ‌iOS 18‌, macOS 15, and ‌visionOS‌ 2, the code is active, suggesting an expansion.”

With a map that’s aware of elevations, hikers can plan a route that, for example, goes around a mountain rather than over it. Or just be aware that the river they’re headed for is at the bottom of a deep gorge.

It’s a feature that obviously ideal for Apple Watch, but many hikers prefer an iPhone. And they’d surely welcome Apple Maps being updated with topographical data in iOS 18.


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