3 ways to get the most out of the Maps App in Mavericks

Mac OS X Mavericks on my Macbook Air

A maverick is an unmistakable person.

She is independent-minded, eccentric and even a misfit.

A maverick unabashedly takes risks.

She incorrigibly says no to the bull-shit, chronically says yes to the shit-work and never says “that’s not my job

Mac OS X Mavericks strives to be the computer incarnation of such a person.  And although it doesn’t perfectly match the term it certainly offers a bevy of new features that are both useful and cool.

Today I want to sharpen your attention on the new Maps app and show you three tips to get you going.

Apple Maps Facts

Sure you could use Google Maps or download Google Earth but Apple Maps is poised to become the new touchstone for navigation on all Apple products.  Both Google and Apple have high GPS accuracy and impressive 3D graphics; however, only the latter is seamlessly integrated into the operating system which creates an inimitable unity that Google has yet to match.

Furthermore, the intricacies and delicate details of Apple’s 3D flyover images are down right breathtaking.  I would say the images are not only commensurate with – but also superior to Google Maps.

The biggest advantage Google can flaunt over Apple is its implementation of the Keyhole Markup Language (KML). KML files allows Google to do all kinds of cool things like annotate maps and tag geographic data.

The absence of KML support is a liability for Apple because it means users can only see what Apple allows.  On the one hand KML is more verbose than it’s sister language XML so map authors will need to spend extra time getting comfortable with it.  But on the other hand, KML is great because it provides a standard for overlaying 2D and 3D elements, setting place marks and defining the camera view for geospatial data.

The Maps App is a stellar piece of software – onward to the tips!

1. Quick Directions

To get started with navigation, press Command + Space and type maps or click the little Maps icon in the dock between Notes and Messages.

Now press Command + r to launch the directions pane and plug in your directions.

Mavericks Maps App

You can toggle driving and walking directions by clicking the little car and pedestrian icons under the direction box. You can also save the results as a PDF by clicking on File in the menu bar and choosing Export as PDF…

I think the best feature of the app is the built-in sharing functionality.  For example, clicking the little leaping arrow icon next to the Directions button let’s you send your maps to your email contacts, iMessage account, Airdrop recipients, Twitter followers, Facebook friends or favorites, aka Bookmarks.

You can even send the Map directly to your iOS 7 iPads and iPhones.  When your iDevices move in the proximity of your Mac they’ll automatically appear in the list as devices to share with.

2. Finding Food is Fun

Maps makes finding restaurants really fun.

My wife and I often visit a Japanese restaurant in New York City called Kotobuki.  Before Maps, the first thing I would do is punch the restaurant name into Google and sift through the results.  Now I can type it into Maps and get instant reviews without the superfluous hits.

Mavericks Maps Local Search

Clicking the gray little i icon opens a world of information.

In one nice little compact ticket you can see:

  • How many miles the restaurant is from your current location
  • How many stars it received vs the total number of reviews
  • General price indicated by dollar signs
  • Hours of operation
  • Phone number
  • Address

And then a bunch of extras such as whether or not the restaurant takes reservations.

Also, don’t forget you can easily share this by clicking the little leap arrow icon in the upper right corner of the review ticket.

Mavericks Maps Info

Clicking the Reviews tab gives you deeper insights into what people really think of the restaurant.

Here’s my personal tip: if you’re ever in New York, skip Manhattan and make the trip to the Kotobuki branch in Roslyn.  The service is speedy, friendly and the food tastes fresher.

Mac OS X Mavericks Maps ReviewsI really like the Photos section because it gives me user submitted photos of the food.

I don’t care about the carefully photoshoped photos that most restaurant display to prospective customers. Just show me the blurry, dim-lit iPhone photos and that’s all I’ll need to get a realistic sense of the place.

You can view a little 3 x 4 grid of user snapped photos or check out the whole shebang on yelp.

Mavericks Maps Pictures

3. Gorgeous Graphics

Press Command + 0 (zero) and bam: instant imposition of high definition.

Mac OS X Mavericks Maps Flyover

You know how most vendor descriptions of TV’s and Monitor’s use bombastic language like:

  • stunning
  • unbelievable
  • amazing

Well, I have to say that the maps 3D function on a retina display is positively bracing.

If you’re lucky enough to own a 27-inch Cinema Display or a new iMac 27 then you’ll indulge in a visual feast of unprecedented proportions.

Mac OS X Mavericks 3D Flyover

The 3D response on my 1.3 Ghz Core i5 4GB Macbook Air was very fluid which made it a kick to fly through the city.

I really enjoyed scrolling and rotating the views although I haven’t discovered how to tilt the camera yet but that’s not a deal-breaker.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately the Apple Maps app is a veritable titan threatening to steal the crown from Google Earth.  But I don’t think it’ll be ready for serious use until it opens support for KML.

The app is surprisingly swift and offers excellent integration.  Moreover, the graphics are impeccable and will delight both map junkies and aspiring cartographers.

If you have any Maps tips or complaints please share them in the comments below!

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Posted in Laptops, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks Tagged with: ,
  • JingleRD

    I use KML TracKs for my work and so, apple maps on mac is completely useless. Also, it can’t do anything better than google earth. While in Google Earth, two thirds of Vienna are 3D buildings, in apple maps it is all flat. Only the USA and possibly london is 3D with apple. The rest not. It is a first attempt of apple to venture into maps. But for the Moment, it is a small joke, not more ;(. Hope they include KMZ/KML soon.