Using Third Party Extensions in Maps – How and Why

Apple Maps is used 3.5x more than the new most-used maps service (Google Maps). Every week, Apple gets 5 billion Maps requests from users. Obviously, it helps that so many people have iPhones. But Maps is also getting way better.

If you’ve used Maps recently, you may have noticed a few extra buttons and options. This is because Apple has recently opened Maps up to third-party developers.

Basically, Apple wants to make Maps a one-stop shop for travellers, even within one’s own city.

Not only can you get directions, you can also easily find fuel, food, entertainment, but you can now call a ride, read reviews of places, and even make reservations – all without leaving the app. This simplifies the process and makes exploring a city much more efficient.

Because these third-party extensions can somewhat replace the need for separate apps, Maps could become a very powerful application. Maps could become the go-to app for anything travel-related.

Start Using Third Party Extensions

Much like third-party Siri apps, you need to manually enable third party Maps extensions. You can do this easily from your Setting app.

Open up Settings. Scroll down and tap on Maps.

Scroll down to Extensions. Slide the slider to it’s On position on each of the extensions you want to use.

There is really no drawback to having an extension on, so you might as well turn them all on, just so you can see what they do!

How To Use Third Party Extensions

The third-party extensions are very easy to use, as they get built right into the maps. To test it out, follow these steps:

Try searching for something in Maps. For this example, I will search for a good Pho restaurant.

This will bring up a variety of Pho options in your area. To view the list of options (as opposed to on the map), slide the list up towards the top of the screen.

To test out the Yelp extension, try tapping on one of the restaurants, either on the map or in the list.

This gives you options for directions, but if you slide up on this, you get pictures and details such as their address, hours, and phone number.

If you scroll down, you’ll see the Yelp reviews for that restaurant.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Yelp reviews, you can see a few more options. You can Check In on the Yelp app, and leave a review on Yelp. However, to do these things, Maps will redirect you to the Yelp app.

If OpenTable or YPDine Canada (or a similar service we haven’t heard about) is available in your area and you have that extension enabled, you may be able to book a table right from Maps.

This option is available when you tap on a restaurant from the list view or from the map view. If the restaurant participates in OpenTable or a similar compatible service, there will be a button that will take you to OpenTable to make a reservation.

Sometimes, there will be other information included. For example, at landmarks and big public places, Maps will integrate Wikipedia information on that place.

Also, if there is a relevant third party app (such as the Starbucks app), that could be useful when going to a place, Maps will provide a link to the app.

While Maps extensions are limited right now, and many of them end up taking you to other apps, this is just the beginning. Maps will continue to grow it’s arsenal of third-party extensions to the point where it is a one-stop shop.

Native Maps Extensions

There are a variety of ‘tools’ or native extensions (as we like to think of it) included within the basic navigational app.

For example, try searching for a famous landmark, such as Le Louvre.

When you tap on this landmark and scroll to the details section, there will be pictures and wikipedia information. But there will also be an option for a Flyover Tour – something only available at select important locations.

This is a very cool feature that shows you a detailed, 3D rendering of the location, in a rotating, flyover style.

You can zoom in and zoom out to catch a birds eye view of the whole area, or get close up of parts of the building.

At the bottom of the details page, there are a variety of options that integrate the Maps app with other Apple apps and make the apps faster to use.

For example, if the location you’ve selected is someone’s house or work, you can add that location to someone’s contact. To test this out, follow these steps:

Search for a location and tap it.

Scroll down to see more details. Then, tap ‘Add to Existing Contacts’.
This brings up a list of contacts. Select the contact which applies to the address.

This adds the address to that person’s contact. Tap Done when finished.

Now, you can just search for the contact’s name in Maps to go to their location, be it their house or their work. Alternatively, you can tell Siri to ‘go to Aimee’s address’.

You can also add an address to your Favourites if you know you will be looking it up again.

Tap Add to Favourites while you are in the detailed view of a location.

This will bring up a dialogue box in which you can name the Favourite. Tap Save when done.

To access your Favourites, tap the Search bar and scroll all the way to the bottom. There, tap the Favourites icon.

You can now easily access your Favourite locations.

These are the basics of using third party extension and taking advantage of Maps’ additional capabilities. We are looking forward to more and better extensions for the app.

This article originally appeared in our monthly subscription newsletter, iExpertnews.

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February 21, 2017

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