Maps was one of the major features announced at WWDC and it's a big one: Since the arrival of the iPhone five years ago, Apple has relied on Google for the back-end data that powered the Maps app. But legal and political strife between the two companies created a rift. The result? As of iOS 6, Google has been dropped as the data provider for Maps; Apple instead now uses resources acquired in its deal with Open Street and from alliances with other companies like Yelp and OpenTable.
How well does it work? For starters, Maps is vector-based, so area graphics and text stay sharp, focused and clean, especially in the default Standard mode. Using the Hybrid or Satellite mode -- either can be toggled on by tapping the page curl on the lower right -- takes a little longer to load, but text remains crisp. Unlike earlier iterations of Maps, the new version supports more than just zooming in/out and panning; now you can zoom with a pinch, and twisting your fingers rotates the map. If you take two fingers and push up/slide down, the displayed map shifts perspective.
Maps is vector-based, so area graphics and text stay sharp, focused and clean, especially in the default Standard mode.
The overall interface has been cleaned up a little: on the iPad, the top menu contains Directions, Bookmarks and a Search area with a pop-up list of recent locations; on the iPhone, the order is Directions, Search and Bookmarks, and the menu loses the redundant Search button toggle. Instead, Search is activated simply by tapping the oval text input area. The Locate Me arrow has been relocated to the bottom left corner and now resides next to a 3D icon. As before, tapping the Locate arrow once displays your location on a map and twice actives Compass mode, which is handy for figuring out direction of travel.
Zooming into Maps brings up local details, such as restaurant locations and other points of interest. Tapping any of those displays a pop-up with the name, a Yelp rating and review count, and a button for automatic directions and routing. Tapping the Info button displays even more information, including type of restaurant, its phone/website/street address, plus reviews and photos. And if you want to investigate further, tapping any of the reviews or photos launches the Yelp app. If Yelp is not installed, you'll be brought to the App Store where you can download it. The downside? The listings in Maps are nowhere near as comprehensive as in Google's Maps. Fortunately, Google Earth is still available as a separate download, so you can have the best of both worlds.
Here's a look at an area just outside San Francisco as shown in Flyover, which gives you a 3D view of several large cities.