Take Flyover Tours in the Maps app on the iPhone and see indoor maps of shopping malls and other locations.

Apple Maps has come a long way from when it was launched and it now has some great features that might make you switch back from Google Maps if you haven’t already done so. Check them out.

Zoom in and out

Pinch and spread with two fingers on a Maps screen to zoom out or in has always been a feature, but now there is an alternative way to zoom.

Double tap on a map and keep your finger or thumb held down on the second tap. You can then slide your digit up or down the screen to zoom in or out of the map.

This new zoom function was no doubt introduced to enable you to use Maps one handed. A map can be dragged around with a thumb and then double tapped to zoom in and out. It works quite well and is a useful usability feature.

Watch Flyover Tours

Flyover Tours is a fantastic feature of Apple Maps that enables you to fly over popular places like a bird or drone and see everything in 3D. The quality is really impressive and it looks like you are really there. Somehow the screenshots below don’t look half as good as the real thing on the iPhone.

To see these Flyover Tours, zoom out of the map a little and find a major city. At a certain zoom level, every labelled city or town has a flyover tour. Tap the place and a panel appears that offers driving directions, a Flyover Tour, photos and more. Tap the Flyover Tour. It works in portrait or landscape modes.

Apple Maps Flyover Tour

Apple Maps Flyover Tour on the iPhone

See Wikipedia information

Tap a city and pull up the panel with the Flyover Tour link so see photos and text from Wikipedia. Slide left and right over the photos and tap one to zoom in and see it full screen. When you are finished looking at a photo, tap it and press Done in the top left corner of the screen to return to Maps.

 Apple Maps app Wikipedia information Apple Maps app Wikipedia image

Use voice search

It would be nice to be able to use voice searches in the Maps app, but I cannot quite get it to work. It almost works though.

In the Maps app, tap in the search box and the keyboard appears ready for you to type. Press the microphone button next to the spacebar and you can speak the search term, such as a place you want to find in Maps. This is great so far and it beats typing, but the text, converted from your speech, just sits there in the search box. It would be nice to have some way to press Enter to complete the command.

You must press the keyboard icon to dismiss the voice-to-text panel and return to the keyboard. Then the Search button can be pressed. It is close to perfect, but not quite. However, it can still save you typing.

Your best bet is to hold down the home button until Siri is activated, then say something like 'Show a map of...' A map thumbnail is displayed and tapping it opens Maps to show the location.

Indoor maps

Indoor maps is a new feature in Apple Maps and it enables you to find your way around indoor shopping malls and other places. Airports perhaps? I had problems finding places that supported this and it is obviously limited to a few locations at the moment.

 Indoor maps in Apple Maps on the iPhone Indoor maps in Apple Maps on the iPhone

Hopefully, in time the number of indoor places will no doubt grow and it could be very useful in the future. You can tap icons to find clothes stores, shoe stores, food, drinks, services and so on.