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Apple Maps adds Street View-style imagery, but with a neat trick

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It’s pretty neat, too. In an on-stage demo at Apple’s iOS 13 event on Monday, Meg Frost, the company’s director of product design, accessed the imagery by tapping on a new “binoculars” button that appears when you select on an area of interest on the map.

With the 360-degree imagery filling the screen, you can explore the surrounding area by sliding your finger around the display. OK, that’s not so different from Street View, but where Apple appears to have improved on Google’s tool is when you move along the street.

When you tap on an arrow in Street View, you hurtle to the next spot pretty darn quickly, with the picture blurring as you go. But with Apple’s Look Around, you proceed far more smoothly, with no deterioration in the picture. It’s like you’re right there, in the car, and ensures you don’t miss anything of interest as you go.

Even better, tap on any of the labels that appear in the imagery — say, for a store — and the picture will swing around to give you a better view and at the same time surface a card offering more information about the place you’re looking at.

It’s not yet clear how much coverage Look Around will offer at launch, though we’d like to think that most major U.S. cities — at the very least — will be in there from the start.

The map

Apple senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi said that to create the new Apple Maps, the company kitted out hundreds of cars and planes with cameras and sensors, and covered more than four millions miles to rebuild the content “from the ground up.”

A comparison shown on stage by Federighi revealed how the new map has tons of extra detail compared to the current offering. The new, vastly improved content will arrive on Apple Maps for the whole of the U.S. by the end of 2019, and select other countries some time next year.

A Favorites feature has also been added to the upcoming version of Apple Maps, as well as a Collections menu to help you sort out your saved content and organize trips.

The early signs are that this is a major overhaul of Apple Maps, though whether it can persuade iDevice users of Google Maps to give it another shot remains to be seen

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