APPenzeller’s TV Maps app is a useful utility that lets you explore Apple Maps – including Flyover city views – on your Apple TV. The app is one of the first mapping apps to appear for Apple TV. It lets you share routes and mapping information using a companion iPhone app to your smartphone.
What Is TV Maps?
TV Maps is a full-featured map client that includes standard road maps, 3D Maps, and Apple’s Flyover feature (where available). The app lets you skip across the planet in standard, satellite and hybrid view. There’s also a Flyover Demo mode that lets you watch maps of some cities as screensavers.
You can also share routes, maps, and locations using the companion TV Maps app that’s available for iOS devices.
It comes into its own for groups of people trying to plan a trip, or for people who may be about to visit somewhere completely new. It is much easier for any family to work together using a map on the big TV screen than using a computer or iPhone.
TV Maps is built to work with your Siri Remote Control on Apple TV 4. It will also work with any compatible remote control, including the Remote app on your iPad or iPhone.
This brings all the benefits of touch sensitivity, but some of its controls aren’t immediately obvious. To access mapping pins, or to zoom in and out of the map or moving your view you must tap the Play/Pause button.
You can also access the following using the touch surface on your remote:
- Change point of view.
- Create a route.
- Or access Flyover, drop a pin and navigate standard, satellite, and hybrid views by selecting the gear icon that appears.
The app always launches in street view, and you can slide up and down along the edge of the Siri Remote to zoom in and out of what’s taking place on the screen.
If you press and hold the touch surface, select the gears icon, and then choose Flyover demo the app will take you to one of Apple’s flyover maps, before cycling through to another destination.
Creating and Sharing Directions
To create and share directions you must press and hold the touch surface on the Siri Remote, and then press the leftmost button on the menu that appears at the top of the TV screen.
Now you will be asked to set both start and end points to your trip, after which you should press Go.
Following a short delay the system will figure your route out for you, the distance, duration of the journey, and offers two additional icons you can use: a phone icon that lets you share with your iOS device, and a Show directions button so you can review the path on your TV screen.
You can also dictate locations in the Entry fields using your Siri remote, which works well when you speak slowly and clearly.
If there is a weakness it is that rather than offering directions in list form it provides them as a sequence of boxes at the top of the Apple TV screen. While I’m certain that’s a limitation of tvOS, it would be nice to fully exploit the available on-screen space and explore the entire route in one or more views.
Does It Work?
Depending on the speed of your Internet connection you may experience a little lag at times. This is because TV Maps uses Apple’s MapKit for mapping, rendering, and directions.
You may also experience some delay loading map segments and some stutter when exploring places in flyover mode, though in part this likely reflects the higher resolution images the app is grabbing from MapKit and Apple’s iPhone and iPad-focused servers.
One of the greatest things about Apple’s platforms is the fantastic developer community building for them. TV Maps is a really excellent example of how developers are empowered to create solutions people need using the tools Apple provides.
The biggest irritation (though it should improve as the underlying OS improves) with this app is the delay you encounter when loading some images, but, on the whole, this seems to be a great little solution if you need to see maps on your TV.