Apple Maps is inching into more Waze-like territory with an update that will give drivers the ability to report road hazards, accidents or even speed traps. The new features are live in the iOS 14.5 beta, which is now open to public beta testers as well as developers, but won’t roll out to the general public until later this spring, Apple says.
To use the new features, drivers will be able to report road issues and incidents by using Siri on their iPhone or through Apple’s CarPlay. For example, during navigation, they’ll be able to tell Siri things like “there’s a crash up head,” “there’s something on the road,” or “there’s a speed trap here.” They’ll also be able to correct stale accident or hazard alert information by saying things like “the hazard is gone” or the “incident is no longer here.”
While using Siri makes the reporting experience safer, the updated app will also allow users to swipe up on the map to tap a report button to alert others to accidents, hazards or speed traps, as well.
The update could present a challenge to Google-owned navigation app Waze, which has long been a popular tool for staying alerted to road conditions, hazards, accidents and police presence. In Waze, users can interact by touching the screen or issuing commands through Google Assistant, but voice support for iOS users, naturally, is more limited. Today, Waze supports the use of Siri Shortcuts, which have to be manually configured and added to Siri, for example.
The new Apple Maps features could also make Apple’s app more appealing to users who feel their user data is safer within Apple’s ecosystem, thanks to the work Apple has done to position itself as the company that cares more about consumer privacy.
Notable, too, is the addition of speed traps, which represents a shift in direction for Apple Maps. Historically, Apple has been opposed to including police warnings in its product. But that lack of support has contributed to Google’s ability to dominate the navigation and mapping market on mobile devices.
Apple’s decision here also follows an expansion of Waze-like features to Google Maps, blurring the distinctions between Google’s two navigation products even further. And as Google continued to roll out the ability to report accidents, traffic, speed traps and more to Google Maps users on iOS, it made it even harder for anyone who would have otherwise considered switching to Apple Maps to make the jump.
Apple, belatedly, has seemed to realize this as well.