Be a virtual tourist: take scripted 3D tours of world’s major metropolises on Apple Maps

By , May 16, 2016

iOS 9 Apple Maps 3D Flyover Tour San Diego iPhone screenshot 001

You knew about three-dimensional buildings and landmarks on Apple Maps—a feature they’re calling Flyover mode. But did you know that Apple’s mapping service includes virtual tours of more than a hundred major metropolises worldwide? If not, that’s because Apple hasn’t exactly gone to great lengths to advertise it front and center in the Maps interface.

These virtual tours are basically auto-playing animations in Flyover mode, complete with three-dimensional buildings, terrain and landmarks. They’re quite useful if you’re visiting a city for the first time, though virtual tourists who want a quick overview of a major city will also find them fun and entertaining.

Here’s how you can explore and enjoy 3D Flyover Tours on Apple Maps for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac.

These tours are scripted: once they begin playing, Maps will basically fly itself around the city and show you important buildings and landmarks, pausing briefly at each. Some of the tours are quite informative and aesthetically pleasing, such as the the St. Louis one which goes through the Arch.

Sadly, there are no controls to pause the tour, adjust the speed, go back and forth and more. Moreover, they render in the graphics-intensive Flyover mode so you may see a grid layout in place of rendered areas if your Internet connection isn’t fast enough to keep up with the tour.

As mentioned, 3D Flyover Tours on Apple Maps are available for major metropolitan areas. To see the full list of cities where 3D Flyover Tours are available, see Apple’s iOS Feature Availability webpage.

How to take 3D Flyover Tours of major cities

iPhone, iPod touch and iPad:

1) Launch the Maps app on your iOS device.

2) Tap the “i” icon in the lower right and switch to Satellite mode.

3) Type a city name in the search filed and hit the Search key on the keyboard.

4) If a city has a 3D Flyover Tour available, you’ll see a banner pop up right below the search field. Tap the Start option to begin your tour.

iOS_9_Apple_Maps_3D_Flyover_Tour_iPhone_screenshot_002

Tip: The Start button won’t appear unless a 3D Flyover Tour is available for the chosen city, or if you’re not in the Satellite view. To access 3D Flyover Tours via a non-Satellite view, tap a city name on the map, and then tap the Flyover Tour option on the next screen, if available.

5) To end the tour, tap on the map and choose End Flyover Tour at the bottom.

Mac:

1) Launch the Maps app on your Mac.

2) Click the Satellite button in the upper right.

3) Type a city name in the search filed and hit Enter on the keyboard.

OS X El Capitan Apple Maps 3D Flyover Tour Paris Mac screenshot 001

4) If a 3D Flyover Tour is available for the selected location, you’ll see the Start button at the bottom. Tap it to begin the scripted Flyover tour.

Tip: To access a location’s 3D Flyover Tours in one of Maps’ non-Satellite views, click the city name on the map, then click Flyover Tour in the Info panel. If the button is missing, a 3D Flyover Tour isn’t available for the selected city.

OS X El Capitan Apple Maps 3D Flyover Tour Mac screenshot 003
Click a city on the map…

OS X El Capitan Apple Maps 3D Flyover Tour Paris Mac screenshot 004
…to see if a 3D Flyover Tour is available.

5) To end the tour, click the End button at the bottom.

OS X El Capitan Apple Maps 3D Flyover Tour Paris Mac screenshot 002

Like Maps’ regular Flyover mode, a 3D Flyover Tour can be zoomed in or out, rotated and tilted as you wish, which will pause the tour.

On your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, tap anywhere on the screen to reveal the controls at the bottom, and then interact with the tour. On the Mac, use trackpad gestures to pan around, tilt your view, rotate and zoom in or out of the map.

RELATED: Zooming without pinching on Apple Maps

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Need help? Ask iDB!

Got stuck? Not sure how to do certain things on your Apple device? Let us know at help@iDownloadBlog.com and a future tutorial might provide a solution. You can also submit your how-to suggestions at tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

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  • CAIO MARIZ®

    Why so many cities have 3D flyover view but no tour navigation? Also there isn’t any icon of 3D on the map (but there is 3D view)

  • Charlie

    I won’t lie, it is a brilliant idea to have flyover like this but the quality of it is just not up to it. Instead of enjoying it I found it quite frustrating, it’s like watching an old Sci-Fi movie from the 80’s with their special effects.

    Would be great if Apple takes this feature away until it’s fully developed.

  • Jayy

    It took me forever to figure out how to do this a few months ago, ended up going on YouTube. I thought they took this feature out for a while!