Maps’ new features
Apple’s Maps is finally catching up with Google Maps
Apple’s native Maps app currently sits in a folder called Junk on the second page of my home screen, where I banished it as soon as it launched close to three years ago. Mainly because it lacked public transport directions. That’s how I get around the city, and while Maps points you to third-party apps for underground information, I need an allin-one solution. Google Maps tells me how to get where I’m going by foot, in a car, or on the train, so it’s my go-to whenever I leave my flat.
But iOS 9 makes Apple Maps a strong contender with the addition of mass transit directions that,
so far, are just as accurate as Google’s. Plus, it has a range of other improvements, like better communication with your Mac and some nice discovery features.
I mapped my way to several familiar destinations to gauge whether the trains and routes Maps suggested were the quickest and most efficient ways to end up at my destination, and they were. Bonus time-saving feature: Apple Maps shows you where subway entrances are in flyover mode, which is incredibly useful. London St. Pancras has several entrances, but if you don’t know where the closest one is, you could end up walking several blocks out of the way. Now entrances are helpfully marked ‘Entrances’ in Maps.
Apple is taking a page from Yelp with a new feature called Nearby, which shows you shops, restaurants, places to drink, and other types of businesses around you or near the destination you enter in the Maps search bar.
Being able to see businesses in the area is helpful, but getting to Nearby isn’t exactly intuitive. You can’t tap into it when you’re getting directions, for instance. After you enter an address in the search bar and the map drops its pin on the destination, tap on the address in the search bar again – that’s how you get to Nearby. A pop-up menu lets you get more specific. Tapping on ‘Food’ lets you see all food nearby, or you can drill down to supermarket,
fast food, cafes, bakeries, dessert shops, and so on. I appreciate the Yelp integration, it means I can see if that restaurant I’ve never heard of is well-reviewed or one to avoid.
Handoff with El Capitan
Handoff between your Mac running OS X El Capitan and your iPhone running iOS 9 is nearly identical to the experience between Yosemite and iOS 8. Just double-tap the Home button on your iPhone or iPad and look for the Maps pop-up on the bottom of the screen to grab the Maps info stored on your Mac.
If you’re on your Mac, look for a pop-up in the bottom-left corner in your Dock to launch Maps information shared from your iOS device. It’s a pretty seamless experience, and works with all of Maps’s features. Beam transit directions, Nearby information, or whatever you’d like.