Exploring Nature's Wonders with APPLE Maps: A Journey Through Topography

Apple's leadership in digital innovation and elegant, intuitive interface design has always been driven by a desire to push the envelope of what a connected world has to offer. The 2024 WWDC was no different. APPLE introduced a new feature that brings the digital realm outdoors and into the reality of nature. APPLE Maps’s topographic maps update is an 'exciting next step in our quest to create the world’s best mapping experience,' APPLE CEO Tim Cook said, bringing relief to the industry that hadn’t seen a new feature since 2012, two years after the release of the first APPLE Maps.

The Lay of the Land: APPLE Maps Gets a Topographic Makeover

If you think of yourself as an intrepid outdoorsman, someone equally at home with adventure in nature as getting a jab, you’ll love the addition of topographic view to APPLE Maps. With this new visual layering, the surface of the Earth – its bumps and ridges, its pits and dips – can be presented as a two-dimensional surface with the same interaction model that has made street-level views so realistic for years now. This new feature, the first of its kind on phones, was first released for APPLE Watch with WatchOS 10 last year.

Trailblazing Features: Hiking with APPLE Maps

It’s more than eye candy. At the WWDC, audiences heard a demo that showed topography almost exclusively in nature, often with lots of green palettes and subdued shading to highlight hills and valleys in addition to the classic topographic lines breaking up the landscape and showing increases and decreases in elevation. For the outdoor enthusiast, the most useful aspects of the new APPLE Maps include paths for all 63 national parks in the US. You can even record trips, share them with others, and, of course, receive spoken, turn-by-turn directions offline.

Discovering Trails and Creating Adventures

With APPLE Maps, nature’s trailheads now lie literally at your fingertips, since you can download detailed maps of particular trails with the flip of a toggle so that the path less travelled won’t be lost, even in those far-flung wilderness areas where mobile service is invariably a no-go zone. APPLE also wants to nurture the inner explorer by letting you personalise and create your own hikes. In addition to catering to that inner-Hemingway in all of us, this degree of customisation is in keeping with the modern user’s conception of the role of technology in the outdoors.

Navigating the Great Outdoors with Confidence

As well as trail networks and hiking routes, one thing that APPLE Maps has long lacked is context. Hence the app’s latest update, which allows users to download trail maps for offline use, is important in ways beyond mere convenience. Most importantly, it emphasises the safety aspect of outdoor recreation, whereas a longstanding drawback of online mapping services has always been their variable usefulness in offline settings. By rendering that variable, this update turns APPLE Maps into much more than an app. Now it is your companion on the journey through the wild.

APPLE Maps vs. Google Maps: The Navigation War Continues

While APPLE Maps partners with such naturalistic flourishes, it’s not difficult to imagine the company’s rivalry with Google Maps, considering the latter’s rumoured status as the default iOS mapping app for some users going forward. The fact that APPLE Maps is stamping its own identity in the world of digital navigation by featuring uniquely creative user-focused features like topography maps and trail guidance is all the more remarkable.

The Core of Innovation: APPLE's Commitment to User Experience

Underpinning it all is a dedication to improving the user experience through technological innovation – a dedication that is highlighted by the update of APPLE Maps, where the raw experience of exploration is paired with functionality to create a seamless user experience. Moving out of the city into natural areas, where human influence is replaced by stunning views, APPLE Maps is ready to help, inform and inspire.

Discovering the World Through APPLE Maps

Even after decades of development, APPLE’s regular updates reflect not just a need to keep up, but a drive to stay ahead of consumers’ wishes in a time when digital maps are becoming an essential part of everyday life. The introduction of topographic maps in APPLE Maps enhances the app’s ability to become a natural extension of the users’ engagement with the natural world, which in turn reinforces the notion that the best technology is the one that serves as a window to the splendours of the natural world across the globe.


Apple Inc is a US multinational technology company that designs, develops and sells consumer electronics, computer software and online services. It is one of the world’s leading tech brands, renowned for its sleek and sophisticated design and for breaking new ground with products such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. By integrating cutting-edge data such as topographic maps into APPLE Maps, APPLE continues to show that it is committed to bringing its users the tools to enhance their lives and expand their world.

Jun 11, 2024
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