Apple Maps got off to a rocky start, but it has been vastly improved over recent years to become one of the best navigation apps available for iOS, even giving Google Maps a run for its money. It provides routes not only for car journeys but also walks and even public transport, points out interesting places on the way and most importantly, highlights traffic jams and road closures.

But while Apple Maps is packed with features, it can be confusing to use, especially for those who haven't used the app before. In this article we explain how to use Apple Maps on an iPhone.

Find destinations using Smart Suggestions

Finding locations in Apple Maps couldn't be easier. If you want to browse for points of interest in your area (restaurants, cinemas, shopping centres and so on), follow these steps:

  1. In the Maps app, tap the search bar. On iPhone, the search menu will slide up and cover most of the screen.
  2. Beneath the search bar, you'll see Smart Suggestions broken down by category: Food & Drinks, Shopping, Fun and Travel. (These can vary depending on where you are; we've seen other categories including Health and Transportation appear from time to time.) Tap a category to get a list of popular options and sub-categories.
  3. Tap an option to display its location in Apple Maps. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access additional information including user photos, reviews and star ratings.
  4. Tap Directions and Maps will plot a route (or several). Change the mode of transportation by tapping the relevant icon at the bottom of the display. Tap Go to start turn-by-turn navigation.

How to use Apple Maps on iPhone: Smart Suggestions

Get directions to a specific location

If you already know the address of your destination, the process is slightly different:

  1. In the Maps app, tap the search bar and enter the name/address of the destination.
  2. If there's only a single search result, it'll automatically be displayed on the map. If there are multiple matches, you'll have to tap the right one.
  3. As in Smart Suggestions, you can swipe up on the card to view more information, and/or tap Directions to plot a route from your current location. Hit Go when you're ready to initiate turn-by-turn navigation.

How to use Apple Maps on iPhone: Search for location

For a more feature-complete navigation experience you're better off using a dedicated app. For tips on that, read our roundup of the best iPhone satnav apps.

View traffic and roadworks

Another handy feature of Apple Maps is the ability to view traffic information and related issues. Roadworks and road closures are displayed by default, but you'll have to turn on live traffic information in the settings.

  1. In the Maps app, tap the i icon in the top-right of the display to access Apple Maps Settings.
  2. Tap the Map tab (or Satellite if you prefer the satellite view) if it isn't already selected, and make sure Traffic is toggled on.
  3. Tap the X to close the Settings menu and look at the roads in your local area. Yellow roads indicate that there's moderate traffic, while red roads indicate that traffic is at an almost standstill, and it should be avoided if possible.

How to use Apple Maps on iPhone: Live traffic information

Set up detours on your journey

We've all been there: you're on a journey and somebody needs to go to the toilet. Or you realise you're almost out of petrol. Sudden changes to the plan are fine if you know the area, but can be a nightmare when using satnav.

Fortunately, Apple Maps has a built-in feature that allows you to quickly set up detours along your journey, allowing you to quickly and easily find a route to the closest petrol station or services, depending on what you require.

  1. When on a journey, tap the bar at the bottom of the Maps screen that displays the ETA, distance and other useful information.
  2. Tapping the bar should reveal journey options, including Smart Suggestions to search for points of interest like restaurants and petrol stations. Find your desired detour and tap Go to reroute.
  3. Once you've refuelled, Apple Maps should automatically resume directions to your original destination. If not, tap the 'Resume route to XX' banner at the top of the display.

How to use Apple Maps on iPhone: Detours

Get public transport directions

As part of the iOS 9 update back in 2015, Apple Maps gained the ability to search for directions using public transport. This has since expanded in scope and sophistication, with impressive attention to detail: Maps will even guide you to the entrances of larger train stations (such as Kings Cross St Pancras) to further streamline your journey.

While it's limited to specific cities in some countries, the whole of the UK is supported, so you can get directions from London to Leeds using public transport. You can see a full list of supported cities (and countries) here.

So, how do you get directions via public transport? It's easier than you might think.

  1. Search for your desired destination, and tap Directions.
  2. Select the Transport tab at the bottom of the screen and select your preferred route. (Apple will suggest multiple routes using different forms of transport. You can avoid a type by unticking it in the Transport Options menu found at the bottom of the search results.)
  3. Tap Go to start your journey.

How to use Apple Maps on iPhone: Public transport

Use Siri with Maps

Apple's virtual assistant Siri has come on leaps and bounds since its release alongside the iPhone 4s. Siri can now pay people via PayPal, send messages via WhatsApp and even hail an Uber without the user having to touch the smartphone. This functionality extends to Apple Maps, as Siri can help you search for locations, plot routes and more.

Launch Siri by holding the Home button (or side button on an X-series handset), or say: "Hey Siri". Then try a command such as "Directions to London Bridge" or "Take me to the closest Chinese restaurant".

If Siri presents more than one option, tap your preferred option then hit Start to begin navigation. But don't worry if you can't tap your phone screen because you're already driving: Siri will automatically start the navigation after five seconds.