iOS 17 smartly offers Apple Maps offline downloads ahead of time

iOS 17’s Apple Maps prompts you to download an offline map when requesting navigation directions to an area with poor cellular reception or Wi-Fi coverage.

Splash screen in iOS 17's Maps app promoting offline navigation
Offline maps work across iPhone, iPad and Mac | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

The helpful reminder is one way of ensuring that people don’t get lost when using turn-by-turn directions in an area with poor or limited network connectivity.

Downloaded maps can be used for navigation on both the iPhone and its paired Apple Watch, and are automatically updated with the latest data.

iOS 17’s Apple Maps offers offline downloads ahead of time

If you have the latest beta of iOS 17, you can test this yourself by requesting turn-by-turn navigation from California to Yosemite National Park.

The Download Map link when planning a route in iOS 17's Maps app
Maps knows if a route has poor network connectivity | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

You’ll get a list of possible routes, like always, and one of them should display a “Limited service” label below the route length, accompanied by a Download Map link. Hit the link and Maps will automatically download an offline map for the route.

Depending on your location and navigation request, Maps may or may not suggest a download for that location. The tidbit was shared on Reddit.

The Maps app obviously has a way to determine whether Wi-Fi and cellular coverage might be poor along a route. It’s unclear, however, if this information is derived from your specific carrier or based on general cell service in the area.

Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac speculated that the feature could be based on “telemetry collected by other Apple Maps users,” which is probably one of the ways Apple Maps checks the cell service along your route.

Managing offline maps

As noted in our tutorial showing you how to download custom regions on Apple Maps for offline navigation, you can download multiple offline maps for different geographical areas. To rename, update or delete your downloaded maps, touch your profile image in the Maps app and choose Offline Maps from the menu.

iPhone screenshots showing the Offline Maps option in the Maps app
Touch your profile image for hidden features | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

You can also toggle automatic updates for offline maps, see expired maps, restrict downloads to Wi-Fi and more.

Offline maps are unsupported on macOS Sonoma at this time.

Other cool tidbits in iOS 17

This is another small but useful touch in iOS 17, one of the many quality-of-life improvements that make using your iPhone more pleasing.

We’ve covered a few time-saving shortcuts in iOS 17. For instance, Siri will tell you the first time you use Conversation Awareness so those unfamiliar with this feature stop wondering why their AirPods Pro volume has dropped suddenly.

Using Photos search to find videos with specific sounds in them
You can find videos by sounds in them | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

In Photos, you can find specific sounds in videos and live photos, such as “laughter,” “applause” or “speech.” The Camera app has a hidden level to help align your shots.

In system apps like Photos, TV and Podcasts, you can touch and hold the Search tab to start typing instantly, saving you a step.

And in Messages, you can touch and hold the new + (plus) button to the left of the text field to instantly open your Photos library to attach media to the chat.

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