Google Maps is getting a huge iPhone 15 upgrade

Google Maps is about to get a whole lot better for iPhones with the Dynamic Island

Apple Maps live activities
(Image credit: Apple)

I've been doing a lot of travelling lately, and I've come to love Apple's Live Activities: that's when apps can display automatically updating widget on your Lock Screen, so for example with Apple Maps it means I can keep my phone locked without losing those crucial turn by turn instructions. Google promised to add support for the feature, which it calls "glanceable directions", in Google Maps ages ago, but it still hasn't turned up. But it looks like you'll be able to get it when the iPhone 15 launches in a few weeks time.

That's according to well-connected tech writer Steve Moser, who says that the latest version of the Google Maps app for iPhone contains hidden references in the code to Live Activities support. That suggests that the feature is nearly ready to launch.

What are live activities and what iPhones support them?

Live Activities work on all iPhones running iOS16 and up, but they can only use the Dynamic Island feature if the phone actually has the Dynamic Island. That currently means the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, but come September it should also include the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

What's the difference? If your iPhone has the Dynamic Island, it can use that bit at the top of your screen to show you information from different apps at the same time – such as the latest sports scores – without unlocking your phone. So for example you might have your maps app delivering Live Activities in the lower part of your screen while your sports app keeps you updated up top.

I've written before that the benefit of this feature is that it's much less distracting than the full Maps view, and that's been underlined during all the travelling I've been doing; it's particularly good when you're driving at night. And of course Live Activities are for much more than just mapping apps: they're good for seeing when you can expect your Uber to arrive or how much time is left on your cooking timer too.

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 (