Apple’s new vector-based iOS 6 Maps support automatic offline use for very wide areas

“Apple’s new Maps are a huge leap over iOS 5 maps in pure technology: the use of vector maps (mathematically described, resolution independent map information rather than static bitmapped pictures of map tiles) enables fast, sophisticated navigation of 2D and 3D views with fluid panning, rotation and perspective, in contrast to the flat, static map images provided by Apple’s previous version of the app,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider. “Using vectors also results in much less data use (an estimated 80 percent less), as your iPhone can download large areas of maps faster (eating up less of your data plan and battery).”

“The efficient outlines can also work offline far further after you lose your data connection. For example, while iOS 5 Maps would load Google’s map tiles of the immediate area being browsed at a couple zoom levels for offline browsing (generally less than a 10 mile radius), Apple’s new vector maps, once loaded in San Francisco, allowed us to browse an entire continent of high level maps (state outlines) while offline, north from Anchorage, Alaska to Lima, Peru and from Honolulu, Hawaii to Montréal, Canada,” Dilger reports. “At a highway level detail, we could actually navigate most of California, and on a simplified level, the western half of the United States.”

Dilger reports, “Offline Maps, a new feature in Google’s Android Maps released this summer, lets you manually select a regions you can save to your device. However, Google limits this support to an area of about a 50 mile (80 km) radius. Google provides full detail for offline map regions, but the area of coverage is much less than Apple’s iOS 6 Maps caches automatically.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.


  1. For al the bitching about Maps, when it works, it works pretty fantastically well. The 3D views of urban areas are amazing and more useful (and, I’ve found, more up to date) than Street View. Maps will get better – too bad they’ll be tainted by a PR failure until then.

    1. Flyover seems pure and free as a bird, unlike Street View which subtly promotes Google’s voyeuristic heuristic (you can almost hear the concealed cameras clicking)

    2. ” too bad they’ll be tainted by a PR failure until then.”

      I think that is unfair if google/moto are paying bloggers to spread FUD about apple’s new maps how exactly is that a PR failure on apple part?
      What could apple do, call google out on the astroturfing, that certainly seems childish and difficult to actually prove.
      React before the “reports” and blogs became so prevalent? Jumping before there are widespread reports does it seem that Apple “Doth protest too much”?
      Do the same? (Ie hire bloggers to astroturf) That is dishonest (google- do know evil, don’t they?) and I for one wouldn’t want them going down that slimy slope.

      I don’t see (just like with antenna gate or the flash debacle) how Apple’s PR reactions could have been substantially improved.

      Also I agree with you Apple maps (for me) is defiantly better, faster,easier than google maps ever were. (though I am 90% of the time in the NY-Washington corridor so perhaps map data is better than people who have had trouble)

      Curiously have you had problems? I have read of major issues, but in direct conversations with dozens of iphone owners (not a major statistical sample, to be sure) not a single person has indicated anything other than minor issues (all were overwhelmingly positive and felt it was much more capable overall then google maps)

      1. I never said it was Apple’s fault -but it happened. It exists. And the perception is it’s Apple’s fault, and in cases like this, perception is everything.

        Apple *could* have mitigated this, tho. All they had to do was call it a Beta. How much would that have solved? Who knows, maybe not much. But maybe users would have looked more deeply into Maps functionality before angrily blogging about melty bridges.

        Say what you want about ‘unfairness’, but we live in a world where competitors ARE going to attack. Complaining doesn’t solve that, strategic thinking does.

    3. You are confirming what I have said recently after my initial disappointments. Flyover is so much more superior than the hyped initially impressive but fundamentally useless and restrictive street view. Yes already I can see the technological superiority of Apple maps that will only become stronger as it matures. Its a shame that some basic problems that will soon improve and relatively minimalist maps have allowed the FUD campaign to obscure the immense move forward the app is already demonstrating and certainly in future potential.

      1. The only real problems Apple Maps has is a bug in the 3D rendering (see the Hoover Dam) and some data issues.

        Apple will fix the 3D bugs, and it will lean VERY hard on TomTom, Waze, and other data providers to get their data cleaned up.

        1. I’m excited about 3D. When the new first launched the Brooklyn Bridge looked collapsed and now it is as nice as the tower bridge in London.

          I hope they can 3D smaller towns some day soon.

    4. Agree…
      The vector maps are very fast and clean.
      Much better than Googles. Compare the text.
      3D view does not work on iPod Touch. I wonder if a A5 or A6 processor is required.
      Google maps screws up on pin point accuracy at times; it’s been years for Google to polish things – Apple just came out.
      With Apple Maps in Beta or not, they work extremely well and a real pleasure to use even if not viewing in 3D.

    1. I’m no computer genius but this sounds like a great idea to me. If they really wanted to speed things up… What if they offered a store credit for each verified correction? I’m sure I’m over simplifying or missing something but hell I’d think some resourceful person dying for an iPhone 5 and short on cash would be all over that.

      1. Not a bad idea, but a small issue with this is, if 1000 people log the same issue before it’s fixed, who gets the credit? If the first, how to let the other 999 know they weren’t first without them thinking you’re not honouring your pledge?

      2. Imagine the hourly pay for such a low education and low skill task (More than likely minimum-wage). Divide this payrate by 60 (one minute is more than enough time to submit an error). Divide that by half since more than enough people are willing to submit an error with no pay because they’d be helping both themselves and Apple. There’s your store credit……limited to a certain “low” cap on submissions per year til Apple meets/beats a majority of customer expectations of mapping data. I, for one, find the ability to submit an error far better than just complaining about maps data or waiting around wishing for Apple to pay me for my oh-so-slight efforts.

        1. Your payment analysis makes no sense. Right now people are submitting errors for free. Add in a little iTunes Store credit, and people will see that as a very worthwhile 2 minutes spent. Report a verifiable error, get a free song!

    2. The Mac world has been lacking a stand-alone maps/ trip planning with multiple en route stops/ route optimization application. It would be great to see those capabilities come to the Mac at last. I used Streets and Trips on a Windows laptop in 2004 doing hurricane relief work in Florida. It did all of that stuff very well, with no need for an internet connection. I suspect the power of the laptop was less than todays iPhone or iPad, yet we are stuck with a requirement to be always connected, something not always possible in the real world. Stand-alone, self-contained for the basics with connectivity for advanced features and database updates.

  2. What I would like to see is the ability to control how much space I’m willing to commit for offline data. I’m traveling Europe right now and the offline is awesome, but I’d like to let my phone just keep a gig or two offline so I could load up detail level info for an entire country before leaving the friendly confines of wifi.

    1. I am sure that will be coming as it seems the next likely step the that feature … But because of all the uproar data problems will likely be resolved first… The good thing is Apple’s pride has be hurt by this supposed misstep … In response Apple will most likely work like dogs to make maps the best app out there for what it does…. Data wise and feature wise. In the words of the late Japanese admiral “I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping bear an filled him with a terrible resolve” google maps will now feel the might of Apple’s mighty war machine in action.

  3. I noticed this very thing yesterday, using maps to guide me home from the Oregon coast. Going through the mountains I got “no service” on the phone for about 30 miles, but navigation continued to work perfectly as it had cached my route back when I had Internet. It worked great, and far better than the old maps. The fuss is all FUD.

    My cousin, who has an iPhone 4 and has not upgraded to iOS 6 because he was worried about the “horrible” mapping, was so impressed he said he’s going to upgrade as soon as he gets home.

    1. It is stories like this, already accumulating, that will defeat the FUD spread by the alarmists. We’ve seen that before: actual hands-on experience and word of mouth trumps manufactured hype. Consumers are more than just abject gulls as the blackguards always seem to presume

  4. As mentioned before, I suggested a giveaway each month of an Apple hardware product. With only one submitted map correction, you are automatically entered. More than one submission doesn’t count. Imagine the database Apple will get
    with this also. Even better would be if Apple made a “FIX Maps” free app that did the submission…millions would be added to the database, not to mention millions of map address corrections.

  5. It’s nice to know that once the dust settles people are loving Apple Maps and that it’s superior features are being recognized. Google has lost 200 million of its iOS map users forever!

    1. The battle progresses: a woolen wave of grey advances; another cannonade thunders through the valley, scything a frightful swath of decimation across the pastures lined with gently swaying daylilies.

  6. Remember when cell carriers had total control of the phones they offered?
    Do you think any of them would have allowed a map app that used 80% less data?
    Putting a lot of effort into and allocating R&D money to such an effort would have been out of the question.

  7. I was filling up my boat with gas when this older gentleman comes into the store….he is trying to find an address written down on paper…I did not recognize it …..seeeing the iphone in his hand I asked ….Did you try your phone….He said No….so I said open up your maps app (Ios 5 google), He types in the address….Nothing. I said i have an iphone on ios 6 in my pick up…..he follows me out and I type in the same address and ….the Apple maps finds it pronto And starts….piping out turn by turn…He said he was going to upgrade to ios6. For the casual user….apple Maps Rock!

  8. Give Apple maps time.
    Google maps have been out for a long time and as I heard on KCBS atech News a few days ago with Larry Magid Yahoo Maps and some other maps application were superior to Google maps when it was launched. I like the new maps. But I don’t use it for turn by turn or anything like that so I would not know about those problems. Give it time and I think it will rock! 🙂

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