If you haven’t had a reason to open Apple Maps in the past day or so, you’re in for a treat. Apple has completely revamped Maps across the United States, with vivid detail, better coverage, and more precise addresses across the U.S. It’s a big leap and it shows just how far Apple Maps has come since its beginnings.
But while the new design certainly goes a long way toward closing the sizable gap between it and Google Maps, there are still a few features we’d like to see added a little further down the road.
You can obviously use Siri to get directions and find places of interest, but once you’re in Maps, Siri isn’t any smarter or aware. Ask a question and the Siri interface still takes over your whole screen. So even though Siri is built into Maps via turn-by-turn directions, the integration isn’t as deep as it could be.
We’re not quite sure what happened with the Apple Maps Uber and Lyft integration that was introduced in iOS 11, but we want it back. Over on Google Maps, ride-sharing has its own tab when you get directions, and you can see available cars, fares, and wait times without needing to hop over to the Uber or Lyft app.
Crowd-sourced accident and police reports
One of the best features of Waze is its crowd-sourced reporting that tells you exactly what’s causing the delay ahead and alerts you to any police in the area, practically in real-time. Apple uses rudimentary crowdsourcing via its “Report a problem” button for places that are erroneously charted, but it stops short of using its legion of iPhone users to tell us about what’s actually happening on the road ahead.
If you’re using Apple Maps and your phone loses its connection, you can still get to where you need to go thanks to local caching, but if you haven’t started the trip you’re out of luck, and you won’t be able to zoom out to see more of your route. That’s because Apple doesn’t offer an option to download maps to your iPhone in case you’re in an area without service. Now that Apple’s maps are so pretty, we’d love to be able to download them for offline use.
We’re generally listening to music while we’re using Maps—especially if we’re walking—but as it stands, we need to jump to the Apple Music app to see what’s playing or change a track, thus taking our eyes off the route at hand. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Even if it doesn’t want to play nice with Spotify or YouTube Music (and let’s face it, we know it doesn’t), Apple could easily add a set of unobtrusive Apple Music controls to Maps so you could have a mini now playing window that lets you do maps and music at the same time.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Now that the maps part of Apple Maps is legit good, why not share it with Android users? At the very least, it would add some extra competition to the Google Maps-dominated world, but more importantly, it would show that Apple has confidence in its maps and is ready to truly take on the best in the business. If Google isn’t afraid to offer its mapping app to iPhone users, then Apple should do the same on the other side of the fence.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.