This Google Maps iPhone 14 update will make my life better

Google's embracing Live Activities, and Maps is going to be a whole lot more useful as a result

Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

One of my very favourite things about my iPhone 14 Pro is the Dynamic Island, which Apple uses to display various kinds of information – including turn by turn navigation in Apple Maps. Which would be brilliant, if I used Apple Maps on my iPhone. But as someone who prefers Google Maps and finds it much more reliable, I'm delighted to see that Google Maps is getting dynamic too.

It's part of a whole host of newly announced improvements to Google Maps, which include new features for electric vehicle drivers, Live View in more cities, improvements to Google Lens search and much more. But it's the iPhone change that's most interesting to me because I use Google Maps a lot, and this is a big improvement.

What's so great about Dynamic Island directions?

Google's name for them is "glanceable directions", and that puts it really well. On Android, they'll appear as system notifications; on iOS, they'll be Live Activities that use the Lock Screen or, on Pro and Pro Max models, the Dynamic Island. 

What glanceable directions does is much like the directions in your Apple Watch: you'll get turn by turn directions without the map view, so you'll be reminded in plenty of time whenever you need to change lanes, take a particular roundabout exit or come off the motorway.

The big benefit to this is that it's much less distracting than the full Maps view, even in dark mode – and that's particularly useful at night when you want to have as little glare as possible when you're watching the road. It's also more effective than the normal view, because the notification will catch your eye in a way that a slightly updated map display doesn't.

Of course this isn't just for driving. It'll work with biking, walking, public transport and more, and that adds another benefit: people around you won't be able to see that you're using a mapping app, which can often mark you out as new in town and a potential target in some rougher parts of the world.

Although the new feature has been announced, it hasn't been launched yet. Google says it'll arrive in the coming months.

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 (