Apple Announces Major Maps Update, Makes It Easier to Abandon Google Maps

Apple's WWDC 2023 event witnessed the debut of several big features for the company's products, including Apple Maps.
Offline maps coming to Apple Maps 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Apple Maps on iPhone 14 ProApple Maps on iPhone 14 ProApple Maps on iPhone 14 ProApple Maps on iPhone 14 ProApple Maps 3D navigation on CarPlay
As a top Google Maps alternative, it's really not a secret that Apple Maps has so far lagged behind its competitors due to the lack of certain big features. One of them is offline navigation, as Apple Maps previously required a permanent Internet connection to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

That's all going to change beginning later this year, as Apple is bringing offline maps to Apple Maps. That's right, the Cupertino-based tech giant has just announced offline support in Apple Maps, giving users the option to continue navigation in regions with spotty cellular reception as long as they download the maps in advance.

The iPhone maker hasn't shared too many specifics right now, but it did say that users will have to "download a specific area" for turn-by-turn navigation. It's unclear if the company will go the Google Maps way and require users to select a certain area for offline maps or if the application will support downloading a full city or country.

Apple says the offline maps will support not only typical navigation guidance but also estimated times of arrival and finding new addresses. The company also promises "more" features in offline mode, but we'll just have to wait a little bit more to figure out all specifics.

The offline map support will go live for users in iOS 17, the next major operating system update for iPhones. Already available for developer testing, iOS 17 will launch in the fall of this year for the iPhone XS and newer. The debut will most likely occur in September, per Apple's typical release calendar.

The battle between Apple Maps and Google Maps is getting fiercer, as offline maps support addresses a major shortcoming on Apple's side. Google Maps has been offering such capabilities for many years already.

Apple has become very committed to improving Apple Maps, especially as the service is now considered a major cash cow in the long term. The detailed city experience, which is now rolling out across the world, includes more detailed maps with 3D models of landmarks and buildings. It also includes realistic models of sidewalks, roads, crosswalks, and all the other street details. In terms of navigation, the new Apple Maps comes with stop signs and traffic lights.

Waze is, therefore, the only big navigation that works exclusively online, as the application needs a permanent Internet connection to download traffic data. This system is very unlikely to change, as Waze's essential engine is the crowdsourcing system that allows users to submit traffic reports and let others know about what's happening on the road ahead.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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