Apple Maps' new UI is a boon for the navigationally challenged

So pretty! So functional! So detailed!


As Americans slowly begin to emerge from our year-plus COVID quarantines, our navigational skills may not be quite as sharp as they were when lockdowns went into effect last March. During its WWDC 2021 keynote address on Monday, Apple announced a slew of new features for its Maps that will help even the most easily lost among us navigate the unfamiliar outside world with confidence.

To start, Maps is sporting a heavily upgraded UI that offers additional details like elevation as well as brighter road colors, more prominent labels, and hundreds of custom icons for area landmarks, like Coit Tower (above) or the Golden Gate Bridge. There's also a slick night-time mode that bathes everything in subdued blue hues.

Maps' depictions of roadways have also been improved with greater levels of detail and highlights to pedestrian infrastructure to help drivers better navigate complex intersections and freeway interchanges alike. These features are expected to roll out to CarPlay later this year.

Transit riders also have new features to crow about. If you ride the same bus to work every morning, you'll now be able to pin that route to the top of Maps for easier access. You'll be able to track your commute progress on your Apple Watch so you won't have to keep flashing your iPhone on the crosstown — your Watch will even buzz a notification when you reach your stop. And if you find yourself discombobulated when stepping out of an unfamiliar subway station, Maps can now pinpoint your location by capturing a couple images of the buildings and landmarks around you.

These features will roll out to a select number of North American and European cities by the end of 2021, with more locations arriving throughout next year.