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Apple iOS 6 Maps gets turn-by-turn in Australia Apple iOS 6 Maps gets turn-by-turn in Australia Featured

Apple’s much maligned answer to Google Maps has been its own Maps app, which has been updated mid November to finally support what was a delayed October launch timeframe for turn-by-turn navigation in Australia!

Although Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app was reportedly just one reason why former Apple executive Scott Forstall was moved from iOS VP spot two weeks ago to “advising” Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple certainly has been busy fixing up the app.

Online reports speak of various famous examples of once seemingly melted imagery being fixed up, as was the image of the US Statue of Liberty, through to updates in place names and other details.

Just as it took Google some time (years) to really hone its map data, so too will Apple continue taking some time to continue tuning its cartographic skills, but progress has, at the very least, been clearly happening.

Now comes the news, reported at MacWorld, Gizmodo and the Sydney Morning Herald, that Apple has finally turned on turn-by-turn navigation for iOS 6 Maps users in Australia.

Turning to our own iOS 6-powered iPhone, we can certainly see that Maps now has more than just an overview for directions, but a proper turn-by-turn feature as well, which tracks you on the map and guides you by voice and on-screen info to your destination.

Turning the iPhone to sleep mode and then turning it back on again shows you the lock screen, which is now tuned for navigation mode, with the space the time appears in showing you your next navigation direction, with your lock screen wallpaper replaced by the map that Maps displays during turn by turn navigation.

Before going into navigation, a map displays alternate routes, if available, and it’s possible to get a route overview as well as ETA by tapping the screen during navigation mode, which brings up the relevant icons.

The interface is quite sparse, unlike the more advanced interfaces of dedicated GPS navigation apps, but as a free GPS navigation solution, it should certainly work just as you’d expect.

The only caveat to that is that Apple Maps is, in its current form, less reliable than Google Maps, and just as Google Maps Navigation in its early days had glitches of its own, and even as we’ve heard about from people using regular, dedicated GPS units, Apple Maps is sure to send some poor driver up the garden path or field or unexpected, not recommended route on occasion too – there’ll no doubt be a big tech news story about it when that happens.

When you’re back at the home screen, the top bar showing time, signal strength, battery life etc is glowing an aqua-greenish colour, rather than the red of apps that record audio, or the blue of personal hotspot tethering, with the glowing green bar reminding you that navigation is still happening in the background.

So… the promised iOS 6 turn-by-turn navigation has arrived for Australians at last, finally giving Aussie iOS users a native turn-by-turn solution never before natively offered on iOS, despite years of GPS apps in the meantime.

My favourite Australian GPS app for iPhone is “Metroview” – it costs AUD $14.99 but lets you download Australian maps offline and work without any data connection, while warning you of speed zone changes by speech or by sound, as well as warning you with a camera flash sound of red light and safety cameras… and wonderfully doing so even without entering any destination!

Now that’s a useful GPS mapping program, one which can help slow you down and avoid speeding or camera fines on any route you travel, without laboriously entering in an address to a location you know how to get to only too well.

That said, it’s not free, like Apple’s new solution, but it is an example of how far GPS apps have come and why they’re not just about plain old navigation any more.

I’ve no idea if you need to update to iOS 6.0.1 first, it probably works on iOS 6.0 maps too, but if you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s worth doing – you’re already on iOS 6.0 after all.

Give it a go and let us know how accurate you find it, and we’ll do the same too later.

Have fun, and please, don't get lost!!

:-)

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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