11/13/09
11:33 am

MacMost Now 318: iPhone Maps App

Learn how to use the iPhone's Maps app to search for stores, get directions, plot your current location and more. The iPhone Maps app has been a part of the iPhone since the beginning, but it keeps getting better. Find out what it can do and how easy it is to use.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today we'll take a look at the maps application on the iPhone.
So the Maps application has been on the iPhone from the very beginning, but it's gotten some upgrades and improvements over time. I think a lot of people have take the maps application for granted, it can do a lot. Let's take a quick look at the features with some tricks as well.
So when you first run Google Maps the interface looks like this showing what you last looked at. When you click on the button on the bottom left it takes you to your current GPS location, sometimes taking 3 seconds to locate you, then you can press on that blue dot to find out more information about where you are.
Here's a feature available only on iPhone 3GS - if you click on the GPS icon in the lower left hand corner a second time, the compass will go into effect and it will actually orient the map in the direction that your iPhone is facing - when you go ahead and turn around it will show you what direction you are facing according to the map.
Now when you click on the blue arrow next to the location you will go to a screen that has all kinds of information about the location and things you can do with it. For instance, you can instantly get directions to the location or from it, you can also add it to your bookmarks, which is very useful if it's a location you commonly go to, or, say, it's your home or work, and you know you're going to be plotting directions from there a lot. You can also go ahead and share the location in different ways, for instance you can email it or send it via text message.
Bookmarks are useful for remembering locations you've been to or that you want to go to again or even where you parked your car. It's not extremely accurate, but it's close enough to get you to the location.
Now, the key to some of the coolest stuff in maps is the button in the bottom right. You click that and the screen peels back and you have these extra buttons - you can do lots of extra things with them, for example you can click on hide and show traffic to have it show the traffic lines for streets that are reporting traffic to the internet so Google can access them. You can also do stuff like switch to a satellite view or a hybrid map with satellite view as well.
Remember you can always take a screen shot of what you see in your iPhone by pressing the home button and the top button at the same time; this is then stored in your camera roll, you can email it to somebody or to yourself to remember a location.
Another thing you can do is drop a pin in the map - this is perfect if you don't know the exact address of a location but you can point to it on a map. Then you get this little purple pin which you can then press and drag around the map to another location. From there you can then click on the blue button and get information about that location and quickly plot directions to or from that place. You can also press and hold on this information and it will copy to the buffer so you can paste it into an email or something else.
While you are looking at directions you can press the button at the lower right and one of the options you'll be presented with is the ability to look at the directions in a list view, which could be more useful for some folks. When you are looking at map directions you can choose between 3 different types of transportation. The first one of course is driving, but you can also click on the figure at the top for walking directions to a location, then the middle, is for public transportation directions available in most major cities. When you're looking at public transportation directions you can also click at the bottom right and look at the list for bus schedules and see when the next one and the one after that are coming.
You also notice a start button in the upper right corner when doing directions. Click on that and you'll be able to track your progress through the directions and see according to GPS where you are on the route.
I find the search function in maps to be more useful than in actually searching in the browser when you're dealing with locations. If you want to find the location of an Apple store, for instance, you just type that in and you'll get pinpoints showing all the different Apple stores in your location. Click on one of them and you'll get a little blue arrow to the right and you get all sorts of information that's interactive - you can click on the phone number to call, you can click on the website address to go to it and it usually lists hours there and you can click on directions to here to instantly plot your directions from your current location to the store.
Maps isn't just contained in one application - there are actually a lot of different applications, both standard ones and 3rd party apps that access the maps API and give you directions and locations using basically the same features so you'll find these features to be useful just about everywhere that location is involved on the iPhone.
So I hope you like this look at the maps app on the iPhone - I find it to be the single most useful standard application on the phone. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.