It’s true that Apple bundles its phones with tons of useful apps. But one program nearly everyone deletes or shoves in a folder is Apple Maps. And compared to alternatives from Google and Waze, there’s just no comparison.
Waze is designed to help commuters and displays gas prices and nearby stations as you drive. Google Maps offers Street View and business reviews alongside its map destinations. Tap or click here to see our favorite little-known Google Maps tricks.
But those days might be coming to an end. Apple has finally released an update to its Maps app that overhauls the program from the inside out. It includes several new features, as well as privacy options you won’t find with Google. But is it actually better? Let’s dive in.
Apple’s Maps app claps back
On Jan. 30, Apple announced it was rolling out changes to the company’s built-in Apple Maps app that will bring it closer to its biggest competitors. Users with the latest version of iOS 13 can now experience these new changes on their phones for themselves without any additional downloads.
Compared to previous editions of Apple Maps, the new update includes several enhanced features like “Look Around,” which functions much like Google’s Street View option.
Additional updates include more accurate map data, ETA and arrival time sharing with contacts, and real-time transit schedules. It even includes indoor maps for select locations like shopping centers and airports.
A privacy palooza
Biggest of all are the privacy changes to Apple Maps. Unlike Google Maps, Apple Maps features zero advertisements, which means your search habits aren’t being collected to that end.
Search terms, directions and certain location data points are associated with random identifiers on Apple’s end, which scrambles the exact origin of the data. Plus, Apple’s new “Log in with Apple” feature also uses random identifiers to obscure login credentials. Tap or click here to learn more about it.
Speaking of data, Apple does admit to using some location information for software improvement. To its credit, Apple is upfront about the process it uses to obscure the data once it reaches its servers.
In a method dubbed “fuzzing,” In Apple’s own words, “Maps converts the precise location where the search originated to a less-exact one after 24 hours and does not retain a history of what has been searched or where a user has been.”
This means yes, your information is stored on Apple’s servers for a period of time. After 24 hours, it’s scrambled to the point where exact locations are unrecognizable.
Given the fact that all your other data points are scrambled as well, and thousands of people nearby will also be using the app, this process bodes well for user privacy. Maybe Apple is improving on that front after all. Tap or click to see how Apple was caught recording Siri conversations.
How can I get these Apple Maps updates?
If you’re already on the latest version of iOS 13, these updates may already be installed on your phone; however, Apple stated they will be rolling the changes out over the course of the week, so not everyone may have them just yet.
That said, if you’re not up to date with iOS 13, you’ll end up missing out on these features. To update your phone to the latest software, follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app on your phone.
- Tap General, then Software Update.
- If an update is available, tap Download and Install.
- To make sure you’re never behind on updates, tap Automatic Updates and toggle the option to on.
Now you’ll be ready to enjoy the latest from Apple’s mapping system. Whether it truly beats Google remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: It’s a heck of a lot more private, that’s for sure!