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The cool new Apple Maps features you’re not using, but should be


Along with the recent release of the iPhone 15 and iOS 17, Apple unveiled a bevy of new features for the iPhone and the Apple Watch that make these devices even more powerful for travelers. Many of those new features come via the Apple Maps service.

Let’s take a look at the new ways in which Apple Maps can help you explore the world.

Offline maps


This is far and away the most useful new feature for travelers, especially those who are visiting regions that might not have the best internet connectivity. Whether you are camping in the remote wilderness or simply want to avoid data overages and roaming charges when traveling internationally, Apple Maps’ new offline maps feature will ensure you have access to driving, walking, public transit and cycling directions even when your internet connection is spotty.

To use offline maps, you’ll need to download a map of the area you are visiting while you have Wi-Fi or cellular data connectivity. Simply search for your destination in Apple Maps and you will see an option to download an offline map of the area. Apple Maps will suggest an area to download, but you can customize it to make it larger or smaller. You’ll also be able to see how much storage space the map will take up on your phone.


If your device anticipates that you have an upcoming trip planned or if it expects you may need an offline map due to service availability in a certain area, Apple Maps can even prompt you to download an offline map so you don’t get stuck without the travel information you need.

Your offline map will have much of the same information you’ll find in regular Apple Maps, including:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Detailed trail maps for many local, state and national parks
  • The ability to sync waking directions with your Apple Watch
  • Estimated time of arrival
  • Public transit schedules
  • Traffic predictions (real-time traffic information is not available in offline maps)
  • The ability to search nearby gas stations, restaurants and other points of interest

This information, including transit schedules, will be accurate as of the time you download your offline map. In order to get the most current details, you will need to connect to Wi-Fi or cellular data. In your offline map settings, you can choose whether to have offline maps update automatically when you are connected to Wi-Fi and/or cellular data.

You can try it out now and get familiar with how it works by downloading a map of your local area or for your next travel destination.

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Real-time EV charging availability


As electronic vehicles become more widely available — both on car lots and at car rental facilities — it’s more important than ever to have accurate and up-to-date information on where to find EV charging stations.

Related: From ‘fart mode’ to battery woes: 5 things I learned from my first Tesla rental

Apple Maps can now display real-time EV charging station availability, including the availability to filter by charging network, plug type, hours of operation and more. You can even designate your preferred charging network.

This feature is especially helpful if you are driving an EV in an unfamiliar area and need to charge your car before you go into panic mode.

Trail information


Trail information is more robust than ever when using iOS 17. You can use Apple Maps to find thousands of trails in local, state and national parks across the U.S. If you see a hiking trail or campground you’re interested in, you’ll be able to see information like trail length, photos, parking information and the phone number of the park’s information center.

Related: The best US national parks you should visit at least once (or twice)

If you have an Apple Watch, the updates to watchOS 10 allow users to view easy-to-read topographic maps with features such as contour lines, hill shading, elevation markers and points of interest that make it easier to enjoy the great outdoors. This works in conjunction with offline maps on your iPhone if you download the map before your visit and have your phone nearby.

Enhanced features in major cities

If you love exploring new cities but consider yourself directionally challenged, Apple’s enhancements to the maps will make major cities like Paris, Houston, Dallas and New York City even easier to navigate.

Features like detailed 3D landmarks, road markings, elevation levels and public transit routes make it easier to get where you are going and navigate busy intersections. This helps whether you’re walking or driving. When driving, Apple Maps can switch to a “windshield view” when approaching exits and on-ramps.

Currently, there are 24 cities with this new detailed look, and more are being added regularly.

Along with these enhanced navigational views, Apple has more than 2,000 curated city guides from publishers like AllTrails and Lonely Planet that let you live like a local when you travel. You can find everything from the hottest chicken wings in Austin to the Jonas Brothers’ favorite eateries when they are on tour.

If you consider yourself an expert on your hometown, you can create your own guide within Apple Maps to share with visiting family and friends.

Bottom line

You likely use Apple Maps on a daily basis to get from one place to another, but it can do so much more. These new features — along with a few that were released prior to iOS 17 — make Apple Maps an essential travel tool for iPhone users who want to get out and discover the world.

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