Apple Maps just tipped for major upgrades in iOS 18 — here’s what we know

Apple maps logo on iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

iOS 18 may have a heavy AI focus when it arrives later this year, but Apple's still going to want to make some updates to the iPhone's existing apps. And that could mean a big change for the built-in Maps, tool, if some recently uncovered code is any indication.

According to a report from MacRumors code sleuth Nicolás Alvarez came across the code hinting at custom routes coming to iOS 18 Maps. Supposedly, Apple has pushed an iOS 18 file to its maps backend labeled "CustomRouteCreation." The file doesn't reveal much beyond its name, but it does mention that the upcoming feature will only be available in the United States initially, which is fairly typical for new Maps features.

When planning a journey in Apple Maps, your current options are quite limited. It is possible to add certain restrictions when planning a journey, such as no highways or tolls. An Apple Maps vs. Google Maps comparison reveals these options pale in comparison to what you find in other map apps. Google Maps, in particular, allows a user far more freedom when planning their route.

The appeal of custom routes is the freedom it offers users when planning their trips, and it can make the experience far more enjoyable. For instance, it would allow a user to pick a certain road due to its visual beauty, unlike the current approach, which focuses on expediency. 

iPhone 16 camera pill design

(Image credit: MacRumors)

While digging through the code, it was also discovered that topographical maps, which are already available on Apple Watch, could be added to Apple Maps on iOS, macOS, and ‌visionOS‌. The code has been dormant in those operating systems for some time, but it appears to be active in iOS 18.

We have heard a wealth of rumors about what could be announced when Apple previews iOS 18 at WWDC 2024, with a particular focus on Apple's AI plans. We're glad to hear other features in Apple's built-in apps aren't getting neglected in this AI push.

Then again, we're talking about just a line of code that doesn’t give us a lot of information to work with. We won’t know how "CustomRouteCreation" will work, or if it will even be included until WWDC, which has been confirmed for June 10.

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Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.