Apple Maps Adds Indoor Navigation, Stops Notifications While Driving

Apple Maps is first focused on shopping malls and airports, but location technology as a whole is the center of intelligent assistants like Siri — and perhaps bolsters new devices like Apple's Homepod.

With iOS 11, Apple Maps will launch indoor location capabilities for malls and airports in cities including Chicago, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, and Washington, DC, the company announced at its developer conference this week — a sign that Apple, once thought of primarily as a punchline in the mapping world, aims attempt to compete in the “next wave” of location that goes far beyond auto routes.

For shopping malls, Apple Maps will show floor plans and store information, store directories, and the ability to search and browse; airports will reportedly be similar. This represents a step forward for users shopping or traveling inside unfamiliar spaces, giving them a sense of their relative position and an improved ability to find businesses and information nearby — though it bears noting that Google and Bing already offer similar indoor maps, and that Google Now moved to connect indoor mapping to inventory ads back in 2016 in a bid to give local businesses more avenues to direct users to their store shelves for a specific product.

Perhaps Apple Maps will introduce similar or improved functionality, especially as it has indicated a willingness to drive forward in the connected intelligence space, unveiling its smart speaker Homepod that is intended to be an “entertainment hub first, connected home tools second”  — but the extent to which users will actually engage with indoor location on Apple Maps and use it to find and purchase items remains to be seen.

Do Not Disturb

Along with its indoor mapping news, Apple Maps also revealed that it would launch a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature as part of iOS 11. “Do Not Disturb” will block notifications from showing up when Apple determines that a user is driving, “either through a Bluetooth connection or Wi-Fi doppler,” The Verge reported. (Overrides for preferred contacts or urgent messages will still exist.)

This update is perhaps more significant, and while it doesn’t have a built-in application for marketers in the same sense as indoor location, it does perhaps represent a growing commitment to safety on the part of mapping providers while still aiming to offer new and innovative features for consumers on-the-go.

In any case, location technology continues to be the center of other emerging technology, such as “intelligent assistants” like Siri and the commerce that they can drive. And Apple and Google have been keenly aware how travelers are particularly dependent on “connected knowledge” thats draw on mapping and businesses’ consumer-facing info. As such, the future here appears wide open.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.