Flyover Mode in iOS 11 Maps Powered by ARKit is Mind Blowing; Here’s How it Works

BY Khamosh Pathak

Published 1 Jul 2017

Apple Maps Flyover Featured

iOS 11 Beta 2 has added a kickass AR/VR 3D view to the Maps app. It’s integrated into the Flyover feature and it’s a cross between Google Earth’s top-down view and Street View’s on ground view. The simplest way to explain it is to imagine you’re Batman and you’re flying over New York City. Yes, it’s awesome.

What Sorcery Is This?

Even though the feature is clearly built on top of ARKit, it’s not actually AR as the map isn’t projected on top of a real-life object using the camera. It’s not VR because you’re not inside an immersive virtual world. It’s an extension of 3D view of cities that already existed in the Maps app.

Now though, the Maps app is using the technologies in ARKit to properly map how your device is moving and it’s moving the map accordingly. It’s using the same technology to track your movement. So if you move around in the physical world, you move around in the map as well.

You’re always floating way above the ground level. Hold the iPhone at eye level and you’re viewing the top of the buildings. Point it to the bottom and you’re viewing streets. You can pinch to zoom and swipe around with one finger to navigate. But for looking around, you have to physically move your device.

What’s So Special about This?

Just how good it is. Let’s face it, Apple Maps isn’t the best maps app out there. In some territories, it doesn’t even support directions.

But this new Flyover mode is actually really good and fun. It’s fun to fly around a city you’ve never been to and interact with it by literally moving your device. In cities like New York, the detailing is a delight.

How to Use This Feature?

Assuming you’re running iOS 11 (Dev beta 2 and above), follow the steps below to start floating.

Step 1: Open the Maps app and first, make sure you’re in Satellite mode and that the 3D view is enabled.

Apple Maps Flyover 1

Step 2: Search for a popular city like New York or San Francisco. A city that supports Apple Map’s Flyover feature.

Step 3: Now from the card, tap on Flyover.

Apple Maps Flyover 2

That’s it. You’re now in the AR mode. You can tap on Start Tour to begin an automatic tour of the city’s main focus points.

ARKit Apps Are Coming

Apple Maps app uses a very small part of ARKit. With iOS 11, we’ll get fully featured AR apps and that’s quite exiting.

What kind of AR apps are you looking forward to? Do you think they’ll solve real world problems? Share with us in the comments below.