Apple's native maps and navigation app will get new features to make driving safer and enable more precise pedestrian navigation.
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At Apple's WWDC 2021 developer's conference Monday, the company announced its Maps app is getting a fresh coat of paint and new AR features with iOS 15 that make the native navigation app more competitive with Google's offering.
The core of Apple Maps is the map itself, which now includes richer elevation data, more road colors, rich labels and 3D landmarks -- with San Francisco's Coit Tower, Ferry Building and Golden Gate Bridge being demonstrated during the WWDC21 presentation. At nighttime, 3D buildings on the map feature a moonlight glow that doesn't add much function, but looks really cool.
When it's time to hit the road, users will be treated to a closer view of more detailed streets with lane markers, special lanes -- like turn lanes, bike lanes and bus/taxi lanes -- crosswalks and more. Highway and street data is also presented in 3D, so you'll be able to see complex overpasses and overlapping interchanges in three dimensions while you drive. It also appears that Apple Maps runs smoother, to better take advantage of Apple's high frame-rate devices.
Watch this: Apple Maps gets a 3D makeover in iOS 15
Not just for show, Apple thinks that more detailed map data can give drivers an earlier idea of which lane they'll need to be in, which can improve safety and traffic.
Outside of the car, Apple Maps is also adding new features that make getting around on foot and public transportation easier as well. Users will be able to pin nearby public transit stops and station information to their iPhone and Apple Watch devices, and receive automatic updates and notifications as they ride and approach their stop.
On foot, a new augmented reality feature allows users to scan nearby buildings in the area with the iPhone's camera to determine their precise position for more accurate walking directions, which are also presented in augmented reality. The new feature is similar in function and form to the Google Maps Live View AR feature that Google began public testing in 2019 and continues to develop today.
The new AR mapping and navigation features are coming to iOS devices with the launch of iOS 15, likely in September. Rich 3D map data will be added to the CarPlay in-car user interface later this year.