I was driving through downtown Detroit the other day and got stuck in a major traffic jam. When I mentioned that to my Dad, he told me I should be looking at Apple Maps on my iPhone before I plan my route through downtown since it includes traffic info and can even suggest alternative routes that’ll be faster. Nice. But how do I do that?
Your Dad’s right. Score one for him!
Both Apple Maps — the new default mapping app for the iOS world, whether you’re using an iPhone or iPad — and Google Maps include traffic data for urban areas and, presumably construction information too, though I’m not sure about the latter. What I do know is that when I’m in urban environments like Detroit or Los Angeles, I definitely check to see what traffic I should expect to encounter since, like every other driver, I hate traffic jams!
Fortunately, this query came just before I was in Southern California for a trip so I had a chance to document this process with real actual traffic. In fact, it’s real actual traffic during rush hour, so as Angelenos know, that means basically all the freeways become a living hell on wheels with traffic. Well, you’ll see.
First off, just go into the mapping app and display the map:
What most people ignore is the little “page curl” graphic on the lower right, but that’s actually how you get to the preferences and settings in Apple Maps. Why they don’t have a gear icon or something more standard I don’t know, but tap on the curl and a bunch of options appear:
Lots to experiment with, especially the “hybrid” mode that has map data overlaid on satellite imagery, which is pretty darn cool, but for our task, just tap on “Show Traffic”.
Now you’ll see traffic data show up as dashed red lines:
You can see that, yes, we’re stuck in traffic heading south on the 101 coming out of Hollywood. Nothing unusual there. (oh, and before you tell me I shouldn’t be doing this while driving in traffic, I wasn’t actually driving the vehicle. I was a passenger)
See those yellow warning icons on the top left of the map, just above the Highway 2 marker? Tap on one and you’ll find out what the warning is about:
Okay, but how about more information about this “Event”? Tap on the grey pop-up and a full page of information is displayed:
That’s handy, though they forgot one tiny snippet: Hollywood Blvd is closed because of preparations for The Oscars a few days later. Kinda cool, and obviously very useful to know that the road’s closed if you are heading that way.
If you use Apple Maps to route you from point A to point B while you have traffic enabled, it does indeed route you based on that traffic information, so it tries its best to keep you out of those horrible jams, even if the route might seem a bit odd when you’re expecting a straight line between the two points.
Hope that helps and good luck navigating Detroit!