Apple is adding a Street View style feature to Apple Maps, letting you tap in to a spot on the map and look around at a 360-degree photo of what’s actually in that location. The feature will arrive in iOS 13, though it wasn’t made clear how widely it would be available.
The feature relies on new mapping data that Apple has been collecting in recent years. The company has been driving cars across the United States and several other countries to map the roads and collect imagery. That’s allowed Apple to begin completely overhauling the data used to build out its maps, and it also provides the imagery for a feature like this.
Apple said its updated maps will be available across the United States and in “select other” countries by the end of the year. It’s possible that means this feature will be enabled for all those locations at that time, since they’ll likely be based on the same data.
Apple has, for years now, been trying to recover from its sloppy launch of the initial version of Apple Maps. Rebuilding its maps from the ground up seems to be going a long way to bring the app on par with Google’s gold standard maps app, and enabling a Street View-like experience will get it even closer. In a demo, Apple made its feature appear even smoother and richer than Google’s, which means there could start to be some real competition when iOS 13 is released this fall.