Like many iPhone and iPad owners I upgraded their operating system to IOS 6 yesterday. I spent a fascinating hour or so playing with the new Apple Maps application.
Apple Macs is one of the most controversial changes in IOS 6 as Apple have dropped Google Maps for their own system. Some really dislike the new system while others like it. I use maps mainly for walking around cities and for this everything works well so I’m reasonably happy. There sees to be less clutter on Apple street maps which I like.
You do loose some things that are very useful though, especially Google Street View. I don’t use Street View on a phone but I use it a lot on the iPad. If I’m booking a hotel I’ll use it to have a good look at the hotel and the area in which it is located.
Apple’s Maps doesn’t have this but it does have a 3D fly through service which looks fun. I had assumed this was just a gimmick but I think it could be quite powerful. Coverage is at the moment limited to the big cities. I really enjoyed flying through the centre of Birmingham — your height above the streets and angle of attack can change and you can swoop down quid effectively. While you can’t look at the house number or the front door you do get a better overall view of the landscape and the neighbourhood than you do with Street View.
But what does this have to do with Street View?
How would this 3D system work with a hill? Well, although it is early days you can see a good demo of this. I am in Edinburgh for the weekend and staying next to Arthur’s Seat. Looking up my hotel I can fly over and around the hill in 3d looking at a 3D photographic view of the hill. It is simply stunning. Paths can be sen clearly and in great detail. Fissures, gaps and mini corries can be easily seen.
As this approach roles out over the whole country it we could se something that will revolutionise the planning of a hill walk or, say, Munro trip. Maybe this technology is not quite new but to see it working on an iPad while you are sitting on the coach is remarkable. I hope Apple have the intention of covering the whole country.
Google are currently expanding their Street View system to include National Trails in the USA but on this first look the Apple 3D view will take things a lot further.
If you have IOS and 3D maps installed on your device navigate to Edinburgh and have a look. You’ll be impressed.
This will be the future of topographical mapping.