How to use Apple Maps to save time and your sanity
At a Glance
Available only on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.), Apple Maps is a free navigation app that has a number of features designed to help you get to where you need to go quickly, safely, and hassle free. If your destination is somewhere you’ve never been before (such as your mom’s new cardiologist) you can use the 3D feature to see a street-level view to familiarize yourself in advance with what the building looks like and perhaps scope out where to park. You can use the ETA feature to help plan out your day, especially if you have numerous trips to take and if a trip ends up being a little longer than anticipated, you may find the keyword search feature to be a life saver, particularly if the keyword you search for is ‘bathroom’. These features and more, along with the spoken turn-by-turn directions it provides makes Apple Maps an app you may want to add to your digital caregiving toolbox.
Available on: IOS
Restrictions: Must have an iPhone.
Other Apps Needed: Whichever you’d like to use within the app, like Yelp or Uber
What’s more fun than a road trip? The sun is shining, the windows are down, the music’s blaring, the wind is swirling through the car. (I think I need to schedule one very soon…)
Today we’re going to talk about Apple Maps. You may already be using this for those very road trips with your girlfriends, to find your mother’s new doctor, or to see how much time it will take you to get to your next appointment. But it’s so much more than all that, and it may even help your aging parents, too.
When I first opened the app, one I’ve used probably hundreds (or even thousands!) of times since I bought my very first iPhone, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t find something new to talk about. But, come on, this is Apple we’re talking about.
In addition to the easy and clutter-free user interface that I was already familiar with—and that you probably are, too—I found so many other useful features hiding just below the surface. It just took a little digging.
So relax and read on; I already did the hard work for you.
Why should you use it?
As a caregiver, you are juggling like a thousand things, right? You definitely don’t need more things to juggle. This app can actually help with that.
With a little prep work, Apple Maps can help take some of the stress out of doctor appointments so Dad can drive himself. Or maybe you want Mom to always be able to find something to eat while she’s out shopping—that’s fairly simple to do as well. With a little knowledge and a tiny bit of planning, Apple Maps will help you breathe just a little easier.
Here are 10 amazing reasons to use Apple Maps (broken up into bullet points for easy digestibility):
Easy to Share Destinations—Think Mom might struggle with finding and entering an address? No problem! Simply find it yourself and share it with her. Just enter the address and press the Share option at the bottom of the screen, then send it to her via text message. From there, she’ll simply click on the link and the address will load in her Maps app and give her the option of getting directions. With just two more clicks, she’ll be ready to hit the road.
Audible Turn-by-Turn Directions—This is a great senior-friendly feature of Apple Maps (and it’s honestly great for the safety of all drivers). Simply hit Directions, then Go, and immediately a voice starts telling you your first step. From there, it’s easy to just get going.
Suggested Destinations—While this feature can be slightly unreliable, most of the time the Maps app will pull appointment addresses from your calendar or locations it found in another app you recently used and include it as a suggested destination in the Maps app. This can be handy for you as you’re trying to keep up with your busy day—it saves you a step or two by letting you avoid opening multiple apps just to find out where you’re going next.
Friendly Searches—This one is fun! Simply click in the search box to open up themed menus. For example, when you first click in the search box from the Maps app home page, you get a listing that shows the following categories (as of this writing): Food, Drinks, Shopping, Travel, Services, Fun, Health, and Transportation. Click on any of these options and submenus come up, allowing you to narrow your search. You can even find out what parks are nearby in just a few clicks! (Click on Fun, then Parks & Rec.)
Peace of Mind—If Dad is still driving, you may worry about him getting lost. This app can help ease your mind; with audible directions, this app minimizes distractions while he’s driving and helps keep him safe.
It Can Help With Travel, Too!—Going out of town? This feature is so cool. Many major airports (and even some malls) have their maps built right into the app. For larger, app-supported airports, you can look inside each terminal for information like food, restrooms, baggage claims, security checkpoints, gates, shops, and others. For larger, app-supported malls, it will even allow you to see what stores are on each floor! No need to navigate to their website to open a pdf on a hit-or-miss cell signal anymore.
Third-Party Apps Within Maps—In addition to all the great things in the app itself, Maps does integrate with third-party apps, such as Uber, Yelp, and Booking.com. This makes it easy to find reviews for restaurants, price ranges on hotels, and schedule a car pickup, right from the app.
Connects with Siri—I already talked about this one a little bit with the turn-by-turn directions, but you can also just ask Siri for directions! Super simple, easy peasy.
Saving Favorites—You can save a whole bunch of favorite locations and name them accordingly. If you want to save your address in Mom’s phone, it’s easy to do. Or your sister’s house in Dad’s phone? Simply type in the address, choose the Favorite option at the bottom of the screen, and name away. You’ll find them by scrolling down to your Favorites list on the home screen.
So Many Options While Traveling—You can scroll down to find gas stations, dinner, or coffee on your route, as well as an overview (if you’re a visual learner), the details of the trip (if you like to see all the steps in advance like me), and audio options!
How Should You Use It?
You probably know how to ‘technically’ use Apple Maps (does anyone not use GPS, anymore?), but you can use it for more than turn-by-turn directions. Here are some scenarios you might not have thought about:
To Get Directions—Just in case you didn’t know: simply type in the address, click the blue button labeled “Directions,” press the green button labeled “Go,” and you’re ready to go.
To Find a Place to Eat—The options are endless. A quick search of food nearby (see # 4 above) will give you all the restaurants in the area, their Yelp rating, the price range, and even a picture. Click on the restaurant listing then scroll down to see everything you could possibly want to know about the place: a one-click call button, a link to their website, their hours today (so if they are open), their address, their phone number, their website, “Useful to Know” information, and even what appears to be their most recent reviews. From this screen, you can save the location as a favorite, get more information about them on Yelp (will open in the Yelp app), check out their website, call them, share the location, even create a contact for them in your phone.
To Share Where You Are—If your parent ever worries about where you are when you’re away from them, you can simply click on the info button in the top right, mark your location, and share it with them. This may help to give them peace of mind in knowing that you’re not too far away. And can also work in reverse. Just ask them to share where they are with you.
To Find Your Way Home—If you have your home address saved in your Contacts app (or your parents have their address saved in their Contacts app), Maps will make a suggestion for directions home. If your loved one is out and about and gets a little turned around, they have an easy option to get directions back home.
To Get Multiple Directions to Any Location—Sometimes there are multiple good ways to get somewhere. To find them, simply select the address and scroll down. It will list all the different ways you can get there. It usually defaults to driving directions, but there are other options along the bottom as well. You can get walking directions, transit directions, or even snag a ride with Uber or another ride-sharing app. The transit directions will even give you leave times. And with the driving and transit options, there are links to more options. In the driving options section, you can choose to avoid tolls and/or highways. In the transit options section, you can pick what type of transit options to include. For example, if you’re not keen on boats, you can uncheck the ferry option.
There are so many good ways to use this app! Not to mention…
Apple Maps bonus features
Swipe left to easily share, edit, or remove a location from your Recent Locations list on the home page.
See the current weather and air quality index (AQI) in the bottom right corner of the map. It isn’t always available, but when it is, it’s very helpful.
Note the speed limits on the map as you’re driving. Helpful when you’ve just missed that speed limit sign.
Find out the traffic conditions along your route. You can check all traffic conditions by looking at your route before you head out. Slow traffic will be indicated by orange lines on the road, stopped traffic by red lines, and dark lines for closed roads. Even if you travel a route frequently, it might be good to check to see if you should take another way home. Some symbols on the map include a yellow triangle with an ! in the middle, indicating a lane closure, a red circle with a horizontal line, indicating a road closure, and a construction symbol (see # 7 below).
Find food and gas on your route by scrolling down to see your options while in Directions mode. Simply select the one you’d like and the app will temporarily divert you to your chosen restaurant.
Use trip info to help plan your trip, including the projected arrival time based on traffic conditions, the amount of time the trip should take, and the mileage of the trip.
Click on the construction icons for more information, including the general location/title, the start and end dates (if known, may be approximate), a description of the construction with helpful information, and the date and time it was last updated so you know if you’re up-to-date.
Easily toggle turn-by-turn directions off and on from the main screen when you’re in Directions mode. Simply click on the black bar at the top of the screen (where you see the turn-by-turn directions) to view the route overview, then click again to switch back.
Increase or decrease the volume of voice directions while you’re in Directions mode. Simply scroll down, select audio, and choose your audio level.
Resume a route easily if you accidentally end the route. You simply choose the Resume button if you want to keep going.
Navigate with the built-in compass. This feature doesn’t always show up, but you can usually see it below the info and location buttons at the top right. Helpful if you want to know which direction you’re going.
View the world via satellite by clicking on the info button on the top right. This literally gives you a birds-eye view of your world.
As you can see, the app has a ton of features that most of us don’t even know about. I was so glad I found out about these things—I can see myself using most of these in the near future. (Probably—hopefully—while I’m on that road trip…)
Were There Any Drawbacks?
The only major drawback I identified was that you can only use this app if you have an iPhone or another Apple product. Also, there were a few times when the features I mentioned above didn’t show up, which could be blamed on less-than-optimal cell reception, but most of those features were bonuses and not vital in using the app to get directions.
How about you? Did you discover something new about the Maps app in this article? What feature or features did I miss? And are you planning a road trip now? Tell me below in the comments!