Master The Maps App on Your iPhone

Maps is a superb navigational tool. Making great use of the iPhone’s location awareness, it gives an accurate map of your location, shows directions to where you want to go and helps you find local amenities.

Explore the Maps App

1 – Tap the ‘i’ for the Maps Settings pop-up window, where you can switch between a normal, Transport or Satellite view, mark your location, add a feature or report an issue.

2 – Tap this arrow icon to focus the map on your current location. Tap it again and the map rotates as you move, so the direction your travelling is always ‘up’.

3 – The blue dot shows your current location on the map. The smaller the blue circle around it, the more accurate this location placement is.

4 – Use the search bar found here to look for a location or nearby feature; here we looked for Fast Food. Tap the Search field without typing anything for a list of recent searches and popular search options such as nearby Petrol Stations, Restaurants, Shopping Centres and Bars.

5 – Current weather information is shown here. Go to Settings > Maps and turn on Air Quality Index and this is then shown here too. Deep press on this data for a window showing more weather information, drawn from the Weather app.

6 – The ‘X’ icon collapses the bottom window panel, giving you a better look at the main map screen; or you can simply swipe it down.

7 – We’re looking for fast food, so nearby burger and pizza places are shown here. The list offers information on the establishments shown on the map. Tap one, on the panel here or on the map for more details such as directions, opening hours, a phone number and more.

8 – Popular establishments that satisfy your search are listed here. Tap one to find nearby locations.

Using route planning and navigation

Enter the name of the place you want to go to in the Search field at the foot of the screen. In the pop-up, tap Directions. If your starting point isn’t your current whereabouts, tap My Location at the top of the sidebar and change it.

Another option available on the bottom panel is Share ETA. Tap it and you can share your expected time of arrival with friends and contacts. The Audio icon lets you change sound settings.

You can change your intended mode of transport using the icons at the foot of the screen. These icons are for (in turn) driving, walking, public transport, cycling and sharing rides. Maps quickly calculates the best route for your journey and displays it on the map marked as a blue line. The total distance and estimated travel time are displayed on the map and in the panel at the foot of the screen.

Alternative routes are displayed on the map as lighter blue lines: switch between routes by tapping one of these light blue lines. Scroll the bottom panel all the way up for a link to options for the transport mode you’ve chosen. For example, Driving Options lets you plan your journey, avoiding toll roads or motorways.

When you’re ready to start your trip, tap the green Go button. You can then view a step-by-step breakdown of the route by dragging up the bottom panel and tapping Details in the second row.

If you need fuel, lift up the bottom panel and tap the Petrol icon. Petrol stations found close to your current location are shown. Tap the Go button on the bottom panel for directions to your selected station. If you drive an electric car, you can find recharging points too.

If you want to stop for dinner or for a coffee, pull up the bottom panel and tap one of these icons instead to find your way to the nearest cafe, then resume your route to your ultimate destination by tapping the blue bar atop the screen.

If there’s a problem and you need to change your route on the fly, tap End in the window in the bottom left, then End Route. You can then tap Directions to your destination again on the next screen and choose an alternative route when Maps recalculates your journey.

The public transport feature

Step 1 – Choose a destination, and tap the train icon for public transport routes. You can journey using more than one method of public transport. Scroll the window up and untick anything you’d rather not use. Find the route you want and tap its Go button.

Step 2 – Tap on a train or subway station on the map for a pop-up showing a list of forthcoming departures from that station. Tap on a service for more information. Transit and flight information is now updated in real time, so check back often for the latest information.

Step 3 – You’re guided along your route just like you were in the earlier tutorial about Turn By Turn Navigation. You’re instructed when to get on a train, where to go from the station when you get off, which bus to catch and more.

Step 4 – Buildings such as subway stations have been carefully surveyed, so Maps shows not only their location but also all the entrances and exits to that station. It can even show maps of their indoor areas and features as well.

Features and Favourites

Type a location in the search field to find it. This can be a town or city to which you wish to travel, an address or postcode you’re looking for, or a local service or facility like a train station or a museum. When looking for the latter, a list of nearby establishments is given and they’re located on the map.

Favourite locations are listed under the search field. If you’ve identified your home address in Contacts, that’s already there, and you can add your work too. Tap Add to add more locations to your favourites, where they’re always to hand and easily selected when using the Maps app.

Traffic information

When planning a driving route, you can get traffic information at any time by tapping the ‘i’ icon in the top-right corner. Turn the Traffic switch on and current conditions are displayed on main roads. Red means the road is busy and green means traffic is flowing smoothly. Workman signs means there are scheduled roadworks happening. Tap a workman icon and then tap the information icon for more details.

Look Around

Look Around is like Google’s Street View. If you search for a city that has Look Around enabled, the option appears in the information window. Drag your finger around the screen for a 360° view. To move the viewpoint forward, tap a road or path a little way in front of your current position. When you’ve finished, tap Done. Cities currently covered by Look Around include Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Los Angeles and more.

3D features

In Satellite view, tap the 3D icon (top right) to switch to a 3D perspective. Zoom in and out, and twist to explore, tap 2D to return to a flat map. Also, after accessing a city’s details, if there’s a button marked ‘Flyover’, you can tap it and watch a 3D flyover tour.


Swipe up the information panel to see your Collections; groups of favourite places you’ve saved for later use. By default, you have a Collection called My Places. Tap New Collection to start a new one. Type a name for your Collection, then tap Create. You can then search for and add as many locations as you like. Tap the Share icon and you can share the entire Collection with someone else too.

New in iOS 14

Maps gained two significant new features with iOS 14. Cyclists are now catered for, with route planning that takes account of dedicated cycle paths and road elevations. If you drive an electric car, you can find recharging stations along your journey. Both features have yet to roll out in all territories but if they’re not available near you already, they’re coming soon.

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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