iOS 11 Maps has crazy cool VR mode that lets you move around by walking

Apple Maps on iOS 11 beta 2 features a great new virtual reality (VR) mode that takes advantage of Apple's new ARKit framework to let you move around in 3D by walking.

This unapologetically cool feature seems to be tied to Flyover, which replaces satellite imagery with three-dimensional buildings, landmarks and other points of interest.

The new VR mode on iOS 11 Maps was highlighted yesterday by Twitter user @StijnDV, but it appears to have been originally discovered by Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad on Wednesday.

To try it out yourself, open Maps on iOS 11 beta 2, switch to 3D mode by tapping “3D”, then use the search field at the bottom to find a place that has Flyover.

On the place card, tap the Flyover button and move the device around to rotate the view. Better still, why don't you actually move forward, backward or side to side to explore the map in VR?

Mind blown.

So, how do we know this nifty feature actually uses ARKit? Because it displays a message when you cover the camera, just like any ARKit-powered app does, saying you should aim the device at a different surface because “more contrast is required”.

As a quick backgrounder, ARKit analyzes live camera feed in real-time, using computer vision to find horizontal planes in your real world, such as tables and floors. I was able to successfully test the feature on my iPhone 6s running a second beta of iOS 11. Because I don't currently own an iPad, I couldn't test VR mode in Maps on the Apple tablet.

WOW There is an VR mode in Apple maps on iOS 11! It seems to use ARKit for positioning!

— Stijn (@StijnDV) June 24, 2017

At any rate, this appears to be the default mode for Flyover now, not a special setting. But don't you worry, there's the option to switch back to the old Flyover mode where you rotate and zoom your Flyover view using touch interactions.

This is honestly one of the coolest features in iOS 11!

— Stijn (@StijnDV) June 24, 2017

This is a wicked cool feature and I cannot help but wonder how it might look like when experienced through Apple's rumored digital glasses that, as per Robert Scoble, should use optics by German lens specialist and optical instruments maker Carl Zeiss.

You can actually move around by walking! This is crazy cool!

— Stijn (@StijnDV) June 24, 2017

Some people couldn't get Maps' new VR mode to work, but I suspect it may have something to do with their hardware. Maps' VR mode uses ARKit, which tracks your actual position in the real world with the camera but requires newer hardware.

Holy Flyover Magic Window batman.

— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) June 22, 2017

According to Apple, ARKit runs on the Apple A9 and A10 processors. “These processors deliver breakthrough performance that enables fast scene understanding and lets you build detailed and compelling virtual content on top of real-world scenes,” says the company.

In other words, anything older than iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, the 9.7-inch iPad (early-2017 model) or iPad Pro won't be able to run iOS 11 Maps' VR mode.

So, is this cool or what?

We'd obviously love to hear your thoughts and predictions regarding iOS 11 Maps' new VR mode and what it might signify in terms of possible new VR hardware from Apple.

Do us a favor and chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Apple Maps expands Flyover coverage, adds Traffic/Transit data for multiple locales

Flyover, a three-dimensional birds-eye view in Apple Maps, is now available in an additional thirty cities and popular tourist destinations in the United States and around the world. In addition, Transit and Traffic data in Maps is now available in several new cities.

Flyover takes advantage of a fleet of airplanes that photograph points of interest from multiple angles. These photos are then used to derive depth information from them to recreate buildings, landmarks and other objects in 3D space.

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

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.

Spotlight Suggestions hit Denmark, Norway and Sweden, new Flyover and Transit data on Maps

Another day, another content expansion for Apple Maps. Less than 24 hours after bringing TrainLink and bus routes to commuters in New South Wales, Australia, Apple's mapping service has expanded its footprint with new three-dimensional Flyover content for Akron, Ohio and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Apple's also brought Spotlight Suggestions to the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac customers in Europe's Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Last but not least, traffic information on Maps has gone live in Thailand, bringing the total number of markets where this feature is available to 34 countries, as per Apple's iOS 9 Feature Availability webpage.

Apple Maps brings Nearby, Flyover and Traffic features to more countries and locations

A steady stream of regular Apple Maps backend updates continues unabated with the latest expansion of the Nearby and Flyover features in new cities and countries around the world. In addition to five new major cities in Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom that now support Maps' three-dimensional Flyover views, the Nearby feature is now available in Austria, Denmark, Japan and Switzerland to help Apple's customers there find local businesses and points of interest relative to their current location.

Apple boosts Maps with new Flyover cities, Traffic and Nearby data

Apple has updated its Maps backend with nearly two-dozen new cities now supporting the Flyover feature. In addition, the company has activated live Traffic data for Taiwan and added Finland to the list of countries that support iOS 9's Nearby feature. Three-dimensional Flyover data has been added to five new cities in the United States, with additional Flyover views now available in various cities across Europe, Africa and Japan.

Apple adds Pittsburgh, Detroit and other new Flyover locations to Maps

Apple on Wednesday added 11 new locations to the 3D Flyover feature in its iOS and OS X Maps applications. The new spots include major cities such as Detroit, Pamplona and Pittsburgh.

First introduced when Apple Maps launched in 2012, the Flyover feature allows users to take interactive, three-demensional virtual tours of various points of interest from around the world.

Apple adds 20 new Flyover locations to Maps

Apple on Tuesday added 20 new locations to the 3D Flyover feature in its iOS and OS X Maps applications. The new spots include cities and landmarks in the US, Japan, Italy, Spain and France.

First introduced when Apple Maps launched in 2012, the Flyover feature allows users to take interactive, three-demensional virtual tours of various points of interest from around the world.

Apple adds 7 new Flyover locations to Maps

Apple on Tuesday added a handful of new locations to the 3D Flyover feature in its iOS and OS X Maps apps. The new locations include San Juan, Puerto Rico and other cities around the world.

First introduced in Apple Maps when the app launched in 2012, the Flyover feature allows users to take close-up, 3-dimensional looks at buildings, landmarks and various other areas of interest.