Improve iOS Maps with a Simple Settings Change to See More Locations & Streets

Nov 18, 2012 - 4 Comments

Improve iOS Maps by showing more locations

The iOS Maps app has received a fair amount of flack, some of which is completely overblown and some is completely legitimate. One of my personal peeves with iOS Maps is the apparent lack of location data shown on screen when looking at a region, which can appear remarkably sparse when compared to the equivalent in Google Maps. The interesting thing about that complaint though is the data is usually there, and usually accurate, it’s just not visible until you zoom much further in than we’ve all become accustomed to with Google’s offering. With that in mind, there’s a really simple settings change that can improve iOS Maps significantly by increasing the amount of labels shown in Maps, and it works on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

  • Open “Settings” and tap on “Maps”
  • Under ‘Label Size’, choose “Small”
  • Flip back to the Maps app to immediately see the difference

See more in iOS Maps with smaller labels

The ‘small’ Labels aren’t too much smaller at all, but there are typically many more of them. As a result, you should find the Maps to be much better, simply because you can see now more labeled locations on the same Maps screen. Street names, restaurants, parks, and all sorts of location data that wasn’t visible at the same zoom level should pop out, though the impact is going to vary per location.

The obvious downside to changing the label size is things can become slightly harder to read, but until iOS Maps improves or we get the official Google app for our iPads, iPhones, and iPods, this may be the best option for immediate improvement, other than just bookmarking the Google Maps website for the home screen of course.

Heads up to CultOfMac for the great tip


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Jeremy Moss says:

    I haven’t had a problem with the maps app, but the colour scheme is terrible. Very difficult to see on a small screen. It would also be awesome if the iPhone 4 could display in 3D.

  2. Lost in Bensonhurst says:

    Apple’s Maps is useless crap.

    For New Yorkers (and the rest of the world not on the Left Coast), the primary issue with Apple’s map application is that it does not all include details on the same “layer”. Public transportation in New York City and the Tri-State area (as elsewhere) is not displayed until one zooms into street level; not very useful when you’re trying to locate a subway station while lost in Bensonhurst, or a MetroNorth station in Brewster. Google’s implementation is far superior, conveying far more immediate and useful information: transportation is clearly indicated without having to zoom in to street level.

  3. parakeet says:

    Worthwhile improvement, but still not even close to Google Maps. Can’t wait for December when Goog releases the app ;)

  4. @andrewpanther says:

    Great tip, I should have submitted this because I stumbled upon the same thing a while ago and I was very surprised at what a difference in makes on what streets are visible in Denver. It’s like night and day here. Even still, I find the font size to be still slightly bigger than what was in the original Maps app. Maybe that is the primary issue with Apple’s Maps? Typically you can zoom in far enough and everything is visible because it goes based on Yelp. Maybe Apple needs to make the default font size be 6 or 8, like Google? I still can’t believe Forstall got fired for this, hard to believe someone is so stubborn he couldn’t either make a change or two or just make a deal with Google and get the job done. Tough lesson to learn, and now Apple is steering a big ship without a rudder!

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