The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent that covers a "touch screen device, method and graphical user interface" for the iOS Maps application. US Patent No. 8,302,033 describes features in iOS Maps including an easy-to-use UI that did away with pushbuttons and complex menu systems. It also describes functions like pushpin-style bookmarking that is used to mark locations, the use of a pinch-to-zoom gesture to zoom in on a map and cellular connectivity to deliver map data on the fly.
Apple's Maps application has been widely criticized after the company recently switched away from Google to its own mapping solution. The new iOS 6 Maps app is not as detailed as previous Google-backed Maps and, in some cases, is ridiculously wrong. The controversy over Apple's Map application expanded beyond upset customers and allegedly led to the removal of iOS software head Scott Forstall.
[Via Apple Insider]