Apple Watch's topographical maps could be coming to iPhones with upcoming iOS 18 update

Olympic swimming gold medalist Amy Van Dyken using the Fitness app on an Apple Watch.
(Image credit: Apple)

If you enjoy using your Apple Watch to navigate when you're in the middle of nowhere, look out for this new Apple Maps feature in iOS 18. According to code that MacRumors reviewed for the new software update, it looks like topographical maps on their way to the iPhone navigation app as well.

According to the code, the same fancy topographical maps we’ve been ogling on the Apple Watch since watchOS 10 are making their grand entrance on iOS 18, macOS 15, and, for those of you living in the future, visionOS 2. Topographical maps are kitted out with trails, contour lines, elevation, and points of interest. It makes them a must-have for anyone who's ever looked at a hill and thought, “Yeah, I could hike that."

So far, these maps have been playing hard to get, with support slowly spreading across the United States like jam on toast. Bringing them to the iPhone with the next major update would require more mapping to be following beforehand or shortly afterwards.

iPhone in the wild

With topographical maps making their way to the iPhone, the device in your pocket might make for a better navigation tool in the wild. It gives you access to a bigger screen, so navigating your surroundings will be easier. And since your iPhone can help you in the middle of nowhere with Emergency SOS via Satellite, you want that device with you anyway.

It's unclear if Apple will roll out the maps with their current level of coverage, or increase the map database. This would likely come shortly before or shortly after the software update rolls out.

Apple is expected to preview the iOS 18 software update during its June WWDC 2024 event, but it won't be released to the public until the fall — likely alongside the arrival of the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.