Apple Maps Improvements

I noticed today that Apple Maps shows traffic lights and stop signs on your route, and Siri now incorporates them by saying things like “Make a left at the traffic light”. I also looked at the Look Around feature. It’s very similar to Google’s Street View, but much easier to navigate on the iPhone and the video is much smoother.

There are still issues with accuracy, but overall, Apple Maps has really improved in iOS 13.

There are two things going on here – one is the updated Maps application in iOS 13, the other is the updated database that’s being used on the back end. Early this week, the database added a big chunk of the northeast US to its coverage, and you may live in that area. I saw this linked at Daring Fireball:

If you’re in one of the areas covered, the combination of iOS 13 and the new data will be a big change to your Apple Maps experience. But if you’re not in the covered areas (hello from North Carolina!) you won’t get the big improvement until Apple releases the data for your area.


Yes. I live in the Northeast near New York. In many ways, the maps data is the maps app. Apple Maps code could be three times better than Google’s map code, but without the data, Apple Maps is unusable.

I know street level data was a tough choice for Apple. They sell hardware and not data. Google can mine the data they collect, sell it for ads, and make Street View a profit center. Apple can’t. Street level data is just a money pit for Apple.

However, without it, Apple Maps is a second rank app. It hurts Apple’s reputation and makes it difficult to incorporate it into a service. Without the street level data, you can’t verify streets. You can’t locate businesses. You don’t know where the traffic lights and stop signs are.

With iPadOS 13.1.2 (iPad Pro 9.7"), Apple Maps notes the current temperature in the location being viewed. I just noticed it recently, so this feature may or may not be new. In my case, the temp is shown on Celsius scale rather than Fahrenheit. I prefer the latter but I can find no way to change it either in the app or Settings.

It’s not set in Maps. Look at Settings->General->Language & Region. In Settings->Maps, you can set whether or not weather and air quality show as well as distance units (km or miles) and preferred mode for navigation (drive, walk, transit).

Thanks. I had unproductively rummaged around in settings. Language & Region is not where my intuition took me.

I got to try out the new Apple Maps on Saturday for my normal Saturday drive (60 miles each way).

The look in the new CarPlay is improved. I did switch a few times between the new multipanel mode and single app mode. I hope iOS 14 allows you to swap in your GPS app of choice.

An error in navigation is finally fixed. There is one turn on my route where Maps has always shown the correct turn on the map but the directions (voice and text) would tell you to get on the road going west when it is really going east. Not a big thing but can lead to someone missing the turn.

Interface is better than Waze and Google Maps.

On my way home it took me on a toll road when my settings are “no tolls.” I went anyway since I knew traffic on the DC beltway would be awful and this once I would pay to avoid it.

I will use Apple Maps more but when I expect bad traffic on a trip I’ll use Waze.

I did a few experiments between Google, Apple, and Waze about their ability to reroute. I used Nixle to let me know when a major intersection closed. I would then put in a route that would take you through that intersection, and then see how long it takes each app to reroute.

I usually find that Apple Maps is the quickest to reroute. Within ten minutes, Apple Maps is rerouting you around the closed intersection. Google maps usually takes about twenty minutes and a few times, it would reroute you off the street, down a side street, and back to the closed intersection before finally choosing a route around the intersection. Neither seemed to mark the intersection as closed, but they detected the traffic buildup and rerouted.

Waze was a total disappointment. In my experiments, Waze never rerouted traffic. I live in the burbs, and that might be the issue. Waze depends upon user reports. Not that many users, not that many reports.

Both Apple and Google rely on the phone position data. Both can detect if someone is driving and when traffic slows down and is rerouted upon side streets. I’m not sure why Apple is usually faster. Maybe most iPhones are set to give Apple location data and most Android phones aren’t.

Interesting results. I usually use Waze and for times of bad traffic have found it very reliable. Rerouting is common. Most of my driving involves the Washington Beltway on Saturday afternoon. Not unusual to be given an update on arrival time or a change in route. Waze is also better in picking routes that are less likely to cause my cat to throw up. It has less frequently put me on local roads. But when it does, that means the beltway is borked.

Something that’s not an improvement in maps for me. I live in an H shaped apartment building in a unit located on the crossbar of the H, and the apartment runs from north to south, back to front. Apple and Google Maps always geolocated me exactly where in the building I am, either north or south. But now it always pinpoints me on the east, it does the same with my husband. Google Maps is not a problem, they still geolocates us properly. It’s not a problem, but we think this is strange, and I wonder if anyone else noticed something like this.

Probably not the same issue as you, but Maps can never locate me in any parking lot correctly, until I hit the street. I can drive through an entire parking lot and it will show the street in the opposite direction from what it really is, until I get on it.

Of course, when I try to outsmart it and go left when it says to go right, it turns out that right was correct that one time after all.