iOS 14 introduced Guides into Apple Maps earlier this year. As we covered in our summer preview series, the feature surfaces local city guides from third-party sources. These are integrated directly into Apple Maps so that you can see the exact locations of the activities that the guides highlight. Since the initial release of Guides, Apple has continued to expand the feature, adding more guides and debuting support for more cities.
Recently Apple introduced a new set of Guides from VolunteerMatch. These are meant to expose local service opportunities, making it easier than ever to volunteer in your community. VolunteerMatch Guides in Apple Maps are available for Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, New Orleans, Houston, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Each guide contains a variety of different opportunities to volunteer. When you find one that interests you, the Guide directs you to the VolunteerMatch website, where you can get more information and learn how to get involved.
I think Apple Maps Guides have a ton of potential to help people get more engaged in their cities. I’m pleased to see Apple continuing to push heavily on expanding this feature to more locations and new publishers. VolunteerMatch feels like a particularly great candidate, as seeing service opportunities directly on the map is such an easy way to spread awareness of them.
If you live in one of the cities mentioned above, or just want to check out the feature, you can access the VolunteerMatch Guides in Apple Maps from here on iOS, iPadOS, or macOS.
As announced at WWDC, Apple has expanded its modern maps to the United Kingdom and Ireland. As usual, Justin O’Beirne has begun documenting the changes on his blog with GIFs and charts cataloging the differences.
Apple’s ninth Maps data update is its first outside the US and covers all of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Although the update represents one of the smaller additions by land area, it’s the second-largest in terms of the total population and population density.
As with previous updates, O’Beirne’s GIFs do a terrific job visualizing the changes with examples from urban areas like London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin, along with places like Stonehenge, Loch Ness, Wales, and the Cliffs of Moher. The new maps are a clear improvement with more clearly defined green spaces, detailed landmarks, and other improvements.
Apple Maps has come a long way since its debut in iOS 6. Much of the app’s history, which got off to a rocky start, has been focused on gathering and improving map data worldwide, but that’s beginning to change. The task is enormous and will never really be finished, but a shift has already started.
Once, the improvements in Maps were focused mainly on its basic underlying data like getting roads and geographic features correct. However, today the emphasis is increasingly on providing a deeper set of data and new features like cycling routes and city guides. Google Maps has had some of this functionality for years, and many of the refinements to Apple Maps are in just a handful of cities and countries. However, with the completion of Maps’ rebuilt map data in the US, Apple has begun to layer in new data and functionality that is poised to spread out much more widely.
It was clear during WWDC that Apple is forging ahead with its Maps app at full-speed. Not only were several interesting refinements to the app and its underlying data announced during the conference keynote and sessions, but Apple continues to improve the functionality of its maps throughout the year, adding its Look Around feature to Seattle, Washington today.
Look Around was the marquee addition to Maps in iOS 13. The feature, which competes with Google Street View, provides a 3D representation of the world from a car’s vantage point. When you zoom far enough into an area that supports Look Around, an icon of a pair of binoculars appears in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Tapping it opens a separate overlay that you can pan around by swiping and move through by tapping along streets. The animations are smooth and the images high-resolution, making Look Around a terrific way to explore an unfamiliar area before visiting.
Seattle joins ten other US cities as the eleventh area to add the Look Around feature. The last city added was Chicago and parts of its suburbs, which were added in April.
At WWDC, Apple announced that Apple is updating its map data in Ireland, the UK, and Canada later this year. With the US map data updated, I’m glad to see Apple moving forward in other countries. I expect that before long, we’ll see other countries add the new map data too.
Also, I hope that the addition of Look Around in Seattle marks an acceleration of that feature. It’s a fantastic resource in the 11 major urban areas it covers. Still, I’d love to see Look Around expand to smaller cities and public spaces over time, making it useful to a broader cross-section of the world’s population.
According to O’Beirne, Chicago, which is the tenth US city to be added to Look Around, is the biggest expansion of the feature by land area to date. Not only is the city included, but so are many of the surrounding suburbs. The feature still covers only about 0.3% of the land area of the US, but by covering eight of the country’s ten largest US cities, Look Around accounts for nearly 14% of the US population.
Apple has shared a new web-based tool that provides insights from Apple Maps on mobility trends. According to Apple’s press release:
This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities.
The tool can be found at apple.com/covid19/mobility, where you can view driving, walking, and transit trends for 63 countries as well as major cities around the world. Apple’s press release also explains how the data is collected and addresses privacy:
Maps does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and Apple does not keep a history of where a user has been. Using aggregated data collected from Apple Maps, the new website indicates mobility trends for major cities and 63 countries or regions. The information is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world. Data availability in a particular city, country, or region is subject to a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests made per day.
Having tried the tool, it’s fascinating to see the differences between the effect of mobility restrictions around the world. I’m glad to see Apple sharing this information on an aggregate, privacy-conscious way that hopefully can help governments and health organizations around the world assess the effectiveness of measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, Apple Maps received its biggest US update by area yet, encompassing several states in the Midwest and West. Along with it, came a comprehensive update from Justin O’Beirne, who has been chronicling the updates since they began.
Apple started rolling out new, more detailed maps of the US in September 2018 and said at WWDC this year that the new maps would cover the entire US by the end of 2019. With the latest update, which is the sixth, only the Southeast and Central states, Alaska, and a few other areas remain un-updated.
According to O’Beirne’s post, Apple’s new maps now cover over 50% of the US by area and two-thirds of its population, including the country’s ten largest cities. Although almost half of the US by area has yet to have its maps updated, the accelerated pace of updates, suggests to O’Beirne that it is possible the remaining parts of the US may still be completed before the close of the year.
In addition to dozens of GIFs with side-by-side comparisons of the old and new Apple Maps for different regions of the US, O’Beirne goes into detail on the changes Apple has made to identifying roads, parks, and other landmarks at different zoom levels. It’s a fascinatingly in-depth analysis that suggests that Apple has increasingly automated its map creation process.
Be sure to check out O’Beirne’s post for all the details and the many GIF comparisons.
Yesterday Apple began the full rollout of its new maps for the Northeastern United States. And right on the heels of that release, Justin O’Beirne has meticulously documented and compared Apple’s new work with the mapping data that it replaces. He begins by highlighting Apple’s progress toward launching its new maps throughout the U.S.:
With this latest expansion, Apple’s new map now covers 27.5% of the U.S.’s land area and almost half of its population (47.2%).
Apple has promised that its new maps would be available to all U.S. users by the end of 2019, so the rollout – which began last September with iOS 12 – will need to significantly accelerate from now through December.
The bulk of O’Beirne’s post lets the new maps speak for themselves. Pulling from significant locations all throughout the Northeast, O’Beirne showcases direct comparisons between the old and new maps. As has been seen in other parts of the U.S., Apple’s new maps feature significant expansions of vegetation, new details for features like ball fields and small parks and rivers, and even road enhancements. Apple’s Look Around feature, which competes with Google Street View, is also now available in some of these Northeastern locations, such as in New York City.
Maps in iOS 13 is a big update, particularly if you’re in an area that has the new Apple-designed maps. I’m excited to have the new maps arrive in New York City, and look forward to getting some hands-on time with them over the coming weeks.
Apple’s path to a home-brewed mapping solution has been long and perilous, but it’s almost arrived.
12 years ago the iPhone launched with Google powering its pre-installed navigation software; five years later, the botched debut of Apple’s own Maps app led to the firing of a key Apple executive; Apple Maps has steadily improved over the years, but seemingly its biggest weakness is that it has never truly contained Apple’s own maps. The app is Apple’s, but the maps have always come from other sources.
Last year, Apple announced a coming change that had been years in the works: Maps would soon contain the company’s own maps, and they would be transformative. The new maps started rolling out in the US last fall with iOS 12, and Apple claims they’ll cover the entire US by the end of 2019.
Timed with the spread of its first-party mapping data, Apple is giving the Maps app a big upgrade in iOS 13 that represents the company’s biggest push yet to overtake Google Maps as the world’s most trusted, go-to mapping service. Apple Maps in iOS 13 represents – if you’re in the US at least – Apple’s purest vision to date for a modern mapping service. Here’s everything that it brings.