The New iOS 6 3D Vector Maps With Turn-By-Turn Navigation [Hands-On]


I never thought I’d say this, but iOS 6’s new Maps app has given Google Maps a run for its money. Extremely detailed vector based 3D maps courtesy of TomTom and OpenStreetMap and a few more unannounced sources, have given the all new iOS 6 some serious oomph. Apple is also reportedly using data from local sources in different areas for a more localized and up-to-date map data, like Yandex in Russia. This has led critics to question the accuracy and coverage of these maps, which, unfortunately, we cannot verify for ourselves right now. We can tell you public transit routes are missing for a quite a few areas, and it’s critical that Apple either fixes that or comes up with some updates quick. Other than that, Apple has boldly made a statement, and we take a look at what the fuss is all about just past the fold.


Before we get into it, we want to treat you to a preview of how the vector-based maps look on the new iPad’s retina display.


Mouths hung open? That’s what I thought. The maps are beautifully rendered and detailed, with the traditional Standard, Hybrid and Satellite alternate views, along with traffic info, where information is available. Hybrid view, with it’s points of interest markings, looks stunning, where you can just tap the location and read all about it through Yelp. You can zoom in to a point where you can actually immerse yourself in the surroundings, especially if you’re looking at buildings and landmarks. Needless to say, the 3D view can put a load on your iPad’s GPU, although totally worth it when you look at the final product. Pinch to zoom in and out, or use the pivot gesture to rotate the map. A two finger swipe up or down will tilt the map, which could be not so new for many map users, but the level of tilt is astonishing.

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Eye candy can only be enough for a certain while, unless it’s your dream car or… We now take a look at the routes, the feature that will decide the fate of the app and consequently, iOS 6. Already reports are coming in that the app has misled a number of people due to incorrect data, and while there is no reason to doubt that, it is a given that Apple will soon be correcting all of that as feedback and more data is collected. For now, we assume there are no bad apples in this basket.

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Not much has changed in terms of navigation, where you enter the start location (can be the current one) and the destination. Multiple routes are shown, but Public transit routes are not yet available in most places, so for those who travel a lot via subway or bus and have updated to iOS 6, this is an oops moment. You can search for contacts with addresses and view them on the map, or pick from the recent or bookmarked locations as well.

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The screenshot with the zoomed in area is not an iOS 6 feature.

Coming back to the accuracy of the data, I read somewhere that the Statue of Liberty was missing, and that’s when I realized I was not looking in the wrong place. With all that this all new Map app has to offer, I really hope Apple will soon be able to iron these issues out, because beautiful maps can only go so far with inaccurate map data.

This guide is a part of our guide to new features in iOS 6, which covers the following topics:

  • tesla

    You are probably one of few hardcore apple fanatics who likes it. It is absolutely shit in daily use. POI are not listed correctly, and museums are in the middle of the rivers.
    Sure, they are in their initial stage of maps, but why release a beta product (I thought they didn’t want to do things like google).
    Beautiful maps are no good if they are not useful.

    • LoL.. far from it in fact. You prolly missed the lines where I mention the map’s inaccuracies. Appreciating ‘how it looks’ is far from praising the whole package, but we’re all free to connect a few lines here and there.
      And I agree, beautiful maps are no good if they’re not useful =]

  • Drew Dennis

    Are you on crack?