Apple Maps got off to an ignominious start, but Apple has done a really great job in the last couple years of bringing it up to par.
The new in-house maps data has now expanded throughout the entire U.S. and it has made a huge difference in the precision, accuracy, and reliability of Maps. Though not technically part of iOS 14, Apple is expanding its new map data throughout the U.K., Canada, and Ireland this year.
The new maps data is only one piece of the puzzle. When you update to iOS 14 this fall, you can expect these useful new features.
Walking, driving, and transit directions are table stakes these days. What about getting around on your bike?
Apple is bringing cycling directions to iOS 14, starting with the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York City, Shanghai, and Beijing. More cities will follow in the coming months.
When you choose cycling directions you get an elevation overview and the directions take into account shared roads and bike lanes. You have the option of avoiding hills or busy roads, and the route list will show you if you need to hop off your bike to walk along the way.
Apple Maps is still integrated with Yelp data for things like business hours and ratings, but to help you find new things to do and explore (or eat), there are Guides.
Apple is working together with brands like Zagat, Lonely Planet, AllTrails, and more to produce slick-looking travel guides to major cities. You’ll find guides for all kinds of things like pizza takeout, parks, hiking trails, and historical landmarks.
You can save a guide for easy access, and they’re updated from time to time with fresh information.
Unfortunately, Guides will only be available in San Francisco, New York, London, and Los Angeles to start, with more coming soon. This could be a really useful feature, but it needs to expand to hundreds of cities.
If you’ve got an electric car, Maps will work with it more intelligently.
You add your electric vehicle to your iPhone (it’s not clear exactly how this happens; likely through the manufacturer’s app) and your iPhone will give car directions that take into account the remaining charge in your car and its range.
It will also show you charging stops along the way, but only those that are compatible with your vehicle. And the ETA will account for charging time, if any.
Speed and red light cameras
Apple says that, when navigating via auto, Maps in iOS 14 will let you know when you’re approaching speed cameras and red-light cameras along your route. And it will show where cameras are located on the map.
We haven’t seen this data pop up yet in the beta test, so we’re not exactly sure what it looks like. It’s one of the most-loved features of Waze, and sure to be a hit among drivers, but only if the data is complete and reliable. Knowing where only some of the traffic cameras are might be worse than knowing where none of them are.
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I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.