Apple Maps Is Now the Cool Kid

Better graphics and more details

Key Takeaways

  • The latest version of Apple Maps offers augmented reality views and improved directions. 
  • The most interesting new Apple Maps feature is the one that lets users explore major cities in 3D. 
  • I tried out the new Maps in New York City, where I live, and I was struck by the level of detail it offers.
Three iPhones displaying the new Apple Maps.


Apple Maps used to be the sad cousin to Google Maps, but the recent iOS 15 update turns the tables.

Cupertino's mapping app now has a stunning new look and dozens of features that make it more useful than ever. The new Apple Maps offers more details and better directions. There's also a new 3D feature that provides users with a more immersive way to explore major cities.

"When you are arriving at a new destination using maps, it is often a bit difficult to recognize the right building even after you reach," tech expert Aqsa Tabassam told Lifewire in an email interview. "The images of the destination have been really helpful for me using the new Apple Maps when locating my destination."

All About the Views

Apple Maps now lets users get directions with specified arrival and departure times. The new update also delivers enhanced road details about turn lanes, medians, bus lanes, and crosswalks. Users will also find more information regarding complex interchanges. 

One significant upgrade is better turn-by-turn directions that give you a more precise way to get to where you are going, software expert Jessica Carrell told Lifewire in an email interview.

"This more direct approach to navigation is great for people who don't want to hold or look at their phones when they drive," she added. "It's simply a more accurate system and a solid improvement from previous versions of the app."

Carrell has tested out the new turn-by-turn directions and found them "super accurate," she said. "I literally said out loud that, 'this is way better than it used to be,'" she added. 

The most interesting new Apple Maps feature is the one that lets users explore major cities in 3D. The more detailed maps in iOS 15 provide new road labels, elevation details, and hundreds of custom-designed landmarks, including Coit Tower in San Francisco, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the Statue of Liberty in New York City, and the Royal Albert Hall in London. Apple says that more custom landmarks for Apple Maps are on the way.

I tried out the new Apple Maps in New York City, where I live, and I was struck by the level of detail it offers. I could see where individual trees were lining the city blocks and the complete outlines of buildings. The new information made it much easier to get a sense of the neighborhood I was walking through. 

Another impressive feature is that Maps in iOS15 can now show walking directions in augmented reality. I tested this feature out, and it was a glimpse of the future and fun to use, but in real life, I felt awkward holding my phone up in front of my face while navigating through crowds of people. 

A landscape screenshot of Apple Maps showing an area in New York City.

Maps also offers improvements for public transit riders. Nearby stations are prominently displayed at the top of the screen, and users can pin their favorite lines in Maps, so the best route is just one tap away. I tried out this feature on a recent subway ride, and it proved handy to find my way downtown quickly. 

Measuring up to the Competition

Unlike Google Maps, Apple Maps is only available to Apple users. While there are a lot of similarities between the two services, there are some differences too. Google Maps show more information without zooming in, whereas, in Apple Maps, you need to zoom for more details. 

The hands-free control of the Apple Maps works better on the iPhone than on Android devices, Tabassam said, adding, "This is because Siri is already linked with your maps, and you don't have to tap on the screen at all for requesting directions."

Carrell said she thinks the new version of Apple Maps compares well to Google Maps. 

"With the previous version, Google was the clearcut winner in terms of accuracy and ease of use," she added. "But this newest update brings the two closer together, and it's difficult to say which one is more effective than the other."

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