Apple Maps’ free upgrade could finally see it catch up with Google

iOS 18 could be delivering a free update that finally delivers a much-wanted Maps feature

Apple Maps live activities
(Image credit: Apple)

While Apple's Maps app on the iPhone is very similar to Google Maps, there are still some key differences and features that Google offers but that Apple doesn't. But a new report suggests that with the launch of iOS 18 later this year, Maps may be closing the Google gap in one key area.

At the moment, Apple doesn't have an equivalent to Google's Custom Routes feature, which enables you to add your own routes. But according to MacRumors, something similar appears to be coming to Apple Maps: code inspected by the site from iOS 18 has a marker for custom route creation.

What would custom routes mean in Apple Maps?

The new feature would most likely work in much the same way as the Google Maps feature does, by enabling you to create a new route in the iOS app or in the desktop Maps app and send it to your Phone. When you're travelling you'd then be able to select your own planned route rather than one of Apple's own suggestions.

Being able to create your own custom routes in your mapping app is a really useful thing for multiple reasons. It enables you to bring your own knowledge to the route planning, so for example the most direct route that Apple Maps generates might not be the most scenic one, or you may know from bitter personal experience that a particular stretch is really prone to bad drivers or surface water. 

It's also really useful for more complex itineraries, for example if you've got multiple stops you need to make.

If you're a Google Maps user and you didn't know about the feature, you can access it via Saved > Maps > Create Map.

The new feature would be a welcome one, because while it's possible to create a workaround using dropped pins it's a bit of a pain; being able to create and save an entire map route would be a lot easier. 

Assuming the new feature makes the final cut for iOS 18, it should be released as part of the OS update in September or possibly October. Unfortunately those of us outside the US we may have to wait even longer: the code indicates that for the time being at least, the new feature will be US only.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (