This Quiet Update Will Make Everyone Love Apple Maps Again

New APple Maps 3D satellite imagery 7 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Apple Maps
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If you've been keeping an eye on how Apple improved Apple Maps, you've probably observed that the tech giant has become significantly more committed to turning its software into a more advanced mapping platform.
The effort doesn't include only navigation features but everything from the new maps, which are now built in-house by Apple, to Look Around and business reviews.

However, it's not a secret that Apple's overhaul has slowed down lately, with the last few months bringing almost no news related to new features or content in Apple Maps.

This doesn't mean the iPhone maker hasn't been working on refreshing Apple Maps. The most recent quiet update, now broadly available for all users, includes 3D satellite imagery for Washington, DC, one of the last major American lacking the data.

Washington, DC, sticking with the old satellite imagery was a surprise for most people, and Apple never commented nor offered an ETA as to when it could release the new 3D data. The first users started seeing 3D satellite imagery a couple of months ago, and the availability slowly improved in the next weeks.

Apple Maps 3D satellite imagery
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Apple Maps
Apple reached the broad availability phase earlier this month, so any Apple user can now explore Washington, DC, in 3D using the new satellite imagery.

Apple Maps is making good progress, but the iPhone maker should accelerate the release pace of these updates, especially as its automotive strategy now puts its mapping platform at the forefront of the expansion. The demise of the Apple Car means Apple must focus entirely on software and services, so Apple Maps and CarPlay now spearhead its strategy.

However, the detailed city experience rollout proves Apple still has a lot to improve on this front. The company started the release of this major update a few years ago, but the DCE still hasn't reached the broad availability stage and is missing in most parts of the world. Apple has also remained quiet about the next regions where it'll expand the DCE, and considering no rollout happened this year, many consider Apple Maps no longer stands a chance against the always improving Google Maps.

The battle between Apple Maps and Google Maps is getting fiercer, mainly as Apple Maps is catching up with features like offline maps and custom routes (coming to users with iOS 18 in the fall). Apple has also added Waze-inspired incident reporting in Apple Maps, so users can report traffic hazards when running with Apple Maps on the screen. The feature is included in the detailed city experience update and is not available for everybody.

Apple hasn't announced the 3D satellite imagery update in Washington, DC, but I expect the company to come up with more announcements at WWDC next month when Apple Maps is likely to get more stage time.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

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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