TV Maps: The Best Way to Use Maps on Apple TV 4

You can explore the world on your TV screen

Explore The World From Your Apple TV Set.

I’ve been using APPenzeller’s TV Maps app ($2)  with my Apple TV for the last few days and wanted to tell you about this app which lets you explore Apple Maps – including Flyover city views – on your Apple TV.

What is TV Maps?

TV Maps is a full-featured map client; it includes standard road maps, 3D Maps and Apple’s Flyover feature (where available). The app lets you skip across the planet in standard, satellite and hybrid view.

There’s also a Flyover Demo mode that lets you watch maps of some cities as screensavers.

You can also share routes, maps, and locations using the companion TV Maps app that’s available for iOS devices. (That latter may be useful to couples and families trying to plan a trip).

Controls

TV Maps is built to work with your Siri Remote Control on Apple TV 4.

This brings all the benefits of touch sensitivity, but controls aren’t immediately obvious – tap the​ Play/Pause button to access change between things like pins, zooming in and out of the map or moving your view; or press and hold the touch surface to access other tools:

  • Search,
  • Change point of view,
  • Create a route
  • Or access Flyover, Drop pin and navigate standard, satellite and hybrid views using the gear icon that appears.

The app always launches in street view, and you can slide up and down along the edge of the Siri Remote to zoom in and out of what’s taking place on screen.

Once you master these controls you’ll be able to explore maps just like you already might do using iOS on an iPhone or macOS on a Mac.

If you press and hold the touch surface and then select the gears icon and then choose Flyover demo the app will take you to one of the locations Apple provides these for, before cycling through to another destination.

Creating and sharing directions

To create and share directions you must press and hold the touch surface on the Siri Remote, and then press the left most button on the menu that appears at the top of the TV screen.

Now you will be asked to set both start and end points to your trip, after which you should press Go.

Following a short delay the system will figure your route out for you, the distance, duration of the journey and offers two additional icons you can use: a phone icon that lets you share with your iOS device, and a Show directions button so you can review the path on your TV screen. You can also dictate locations in the Entry fields using your Siri remote, which works well in most cases so long as you speak clearly.

If there is a weakness here it is that rather than offering directions in list form it provides them as a sequence of boxes at the top of the Apple TV screen. While I’m certain that’s a limitation of tvOS, it would be nice to fully exploit the available on-screen space and explore the entire route in one or more views.

Does it work?

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection you may experience a little lag at times. This is because TV Maps uses Apple’s MapKit for mapping, rendering, and directions.

You may also experience some delay loading map segments and some stutter when exploring places in flyover mode. That’s not a criticism of the app, as Apple improves tvOS the way the OS handles tasks like this will also improve. However, you may find yourself staring at a black net-like picture for a short time when moving between maps sections, though in part this likely reflects the higher resolution images the app is grabbing from MapKit and Apple’s iPhone and iPad-focused servers.

Conclusion

One of the greatest things about Apple’s platforms is the fantastic developer community building for them.

TV Maps is a really excellent example of how developers are empowered to create solutions people need using the tools Apple provides.

The biggest irritation (though I expect it to improve as the underlying OS improves) with this app is the delay you encounter when loading some images, but, on the ​whole, this seems to be a great little solution if you need to see maps on your TV.

Disclaimer: I did receive a download code for this app, but I purchased it instead.