Is Apple Maps a Reliable Navigator Yet?
If you’re a frequent traveler, one of the biggest returns on your investment in an iPhone is Apple’s navigation aid, Maps.
After dropping Google Maps from iOS devices in 2012, Apple patched up some of the initial problems with Maps, and in 2013 announced that Maps would also be included in OS X Mavericks. If you need GPS navigation on a regular basis, you’ll find that Maps can save you time, money and sanity when planning your next trip.
Maps includes a flyover view of tourist areas, 3-D navigation view of buildings, local traffic search, links to business reviews and photos and access to map information in Messages. The availability of these features varies from region to region, and country to country.
Maps Turn-by Turn Navigation
For most users like myself, Apple’s turn-by-turn navigation is a gas-saving tool for getting from point A to point B. To get started with Maps, open it up and type in your destination address. The city and zip code are not always needed for local destinations.
Maps will pinpoint your current location and destination on the map. At this point, you can tap on the upper-left arrow and Maps will reveal the amount of time it will take to reach your destination. In my experience with Maps, the specified time is usually accurate, and it will update if traffic conditions change.
Next, tap on the red pin and then tap on the pop-up for your destination. In the information pane, scroll down and tap on “Directions to Here.”
Tap the Route button when it appears on the top-right, and then tap Start at the bottom of the map. Maps and Siri will provide turn-by-turn visual and audio navigation to your destination.
Tap on the mileage info at the top (for example, the “50 feet” in the screenshot below) to get back to an overview map of your travel. Tap resume to get back to the turn-by-turn information. You can tap the mileage info at any time to command Siri to repeat directions.
Most likely you’ll be setting map destinations from your home or place of work, so make sure you have those addresses inputted into your Contacts app so that Maps and Siri can access them.
There are several other features in Maps you should be aware of. You can tap on the dropped pin of your destination, and then tap on its name to get logistical information about the place you’re traveling to. You can also tap on the top address bar to view your previous searched locations.
You can also tap on the bottom-right icon to get a listing of the turn-by-turn directions of the mapped route. In addition, Siri will provide voice navigation as you walk to your destination. You can also play music or open other apps while Maps is activated. To return to Maps, tap on the blue bar at the top of the phone from within any app.
Tap on the info button on the bottom-right of a map to get access to traffic information, and to access 3D, hybrid, and satellite views.
Notice also that in addition to getting walking directions to your destination, Maps includes direct access to other apps that may provide access to available public transit in your local area.
Another convenient way to search for directions is to use Siri. If, for example, you’re leaving a destination and you need directions back home, you can simply voice dictate the Siri command , “Give me directions home,” and Maps will automatically find a route based on your current location. You can issue dozens of map and GPS commands for Siri, including “Directions to the nearest gas station.”
If you keep your Contacts list updated with addresses for friends, family, and frequently visited places, Siri can access that information and set up map directions for you. So, for example, sending the command, “Directions to Carl’s office”, Siri will automatically use the address I’ve saves for Carl’s office.
Maps and Messages
Often times, when we’re traveling, we need to let someone else know our current location or destination. In iOS 8, Apple updated its Messages app to include direct access to current GPS location. Open Messages and select the person you want to contact, or create a new message. Tap on Details, on the top-right, and it will open the sharing options in Messages.
From there you can you send your current location, as well as choose to share a recurring update of your location as you travel, by tapping on Share My Location. The information you share will allow the recipient to open the map information in his or her smartphone.
Handy and Reliable
Based on my experiences, I’ve found Maps to be a very reliable GPS app. It quickly updates the navigation route and gets you back on track if you take a wrong turn, and it voices the names of streets and freeway information so you don’t have to constantly look at the map as you drive.
Also, if you’re a Mac user, take advantage of the Mac version of Maps for planning your trips. You can easily send directions to your phone (using the share button, pictured below) or text it to another user.
I suggest when using Maps that you connect your iPhone to your car stereo while driving, or use an earphone so you can clearly hear voice directions. This will also cut down on having to take your eyes off the road.
Has Maps come to your aid recently?
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