When Apple released iOS 6 alongside the new iPhone in September of 2012, the Maps application was no longer powered by Google. As a result, there has been much fanfare about its questionable mapping capabilities. The negative response was so deafening that it prompted an apology from Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, who went so far as to offer alternatives the stock Maps app, while the company works hard on improvements. Since then, great free map alternatives including the excellent Google Maps have been made available in the App Store. The tight integration found within iOS applications and Apple’s Maps makes it a critical piece of software that will improve over time. Not to mention, there are thousands upon thousands of folks who use it on a daily basis without issue. Here’s how to use turn by turn navigation on iPhone using iOS 6 or greater.

Turn by turn navigation iPhone

Maps is deeply integrated into iOS, making it available in both stock and third party apps. For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s start by opening up the Maps application. At the top of the application, you’ll see an arrow and a search bar. At the far right, you can you access to your contacts, destinations you’ve saved as bookmarks along with recent locations. At the bottom, you’ll see an icon to provide you with your current location using GPS.

Turn by turn maps on iPhone

Since we would like driving directions, we only need to concern ourselves with the directions icon.

  1. Tap on the directions icon (looks like a right arrow).
  2. The top row provides three methods of transportation you’ll be using to navigate, including your two feet.
  3. By default, the Start location is set to ‘Current Location’ based on the GPS location determined by the iPhone. If for some reason you are looking to change the start point, just tap in the box, select the ‘X’ to remove and type your new start address.
  4. Tap in the End box to enter your destination. If you are going to a friend’s house or to an address of a person or company in your Contacts, start typing their name. iOS will automatically start recommending people from your contacts list. Tap on the name or manually type in the address. iOS will recognize common landmarks. For example, you could type in Times Square and it’ll recommend Times Square, NYC.
  5. The iPhone will show you three suggested routes, with the selected route highlighted in blue. You can easily select the 2nd or 3rd route by tapping on them.
  6. At the bottom (next to 3D), you’ll see a list icon. Tap on it to see the directions broken out in list format. This will detail the route, including each turn along with how many miles for each part of your trip. Tap Done to return to the map.
  7. With your route selected, tap on ‘Start’ to begin your voice guidance.

Navigation routes

Maps will take over the entire screen until you reach your destination. If you tap on the screen, you’ll reveal a number of options:

  • End: This ends your trip guidance.
  • Overview: This will zoom out, providing you with a complete look at your trip from point A to point B.
  • 3D: Reveals a 3D view.
  • List: Provides a Route Overview complete with roads, turns and time needed to complete your trip.

Tip: Press ‘Overview’ and the location icon to update and highlight your current position.

Bonus Tip: Your iPhone can be turned off and will still provide directions. Press the power button and the lock screen will display your current point in the navigation.

Navigation lock screen


If you are not using Maps to navigate to a contact or landmark, you may have to use the search bar on the main screen. Let’s say that you are looking for a cup of coffee while on a business trip. Search for Starbucks and the map will reveal locations and their proximity to your location. Tap on the the red pins to change a location. When you have found the most desirable location, tap on the green car icon. You’ll see the three routing options. Select your preferred route and tap ‘Start’.

Voice guidance nav

Get Directions Using Siri

Remember that deep iOS integration I mentioned, well look no further than Siri.

  1. Press and hold the home button to initiate Siri
  2. Say, “Get directions to {insert contact name}”
  3. Siri will let you know that she is getting directions. In seconds, Maps will launch and immediately initiate voice guided driving directions.

One common request you’ll find useful is, “Give me directions home.” Other popular examples of using Siri with Navigation include these:

  • Get me directions to Yankee Stadium
  • Directions to my Dad’s work (assuming you’ve set up relationships in Siri)
  • Get me directions from San Francisco to Santa Barbara
  • What’s my next turn?
  • Are we there yet?
  • What’s my ETA?
  • Find a gas station.

Tip: Maps will offer you the option to navigate to Home. This is based on the settings you have for your contact card. To associate your contact information, open Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > My Info and select your card.

Navigation Voice Volume
If you are using your car audio for navigation, you can adjust the voice volume. This is helpful if you are using your iPhone to listen to music and do not want the navigation to be overwhelming.

  1. Navigate to Settings > Maps
  2. Select Navigation Voice Volume > No Voice, Low Volume, Normal Volume, Loud Volume

Other options in the Maps settings include: Distances (In Miles or In Kilometers), Map Labels and Label Size.

Maps settings

Using Google Maps as an alternative to Maps

If you still don’t trust Maps, I highly recommend downloading the free Google Maps application from the App Store, an application that is well deserved of its position on our list of the best free apps for iPhone.

You can use Siri to initiate Google Maps for navigation. Use the same phrases mentioned above, but append them with ‘via transit’. Siri will present you with alternative mapping applications that offer transit information. With Google Maps installed, you simply tap and go. Google Maps will now provide you with voice navigation.

get siri to use google maps for directions

Delete Recent Locations
When selecting the directions icon, you’ll find that it will accumulate all the locations entered into Maps. To delete recent locations, follow these steps:

  1. Select the book icon that appears at the top right of the main screen.
  2. Tap on the Recents tab at the bottom.
  3. Select ‘Clear’ at the top left.
  4. Tap on the button prompt to ‘Clear All Recents’.

Clear all recent locations

Apple’s Maps application has taken some lumps since its release, but they continue to improve upon the mapping data. Make no mistake, Apple is committed to improving Maps, given its deep integration within iOS and a good number of folks have not had problems. Using any of the methods for address entry, Maps can provide fast, easy and increasingly more reliable turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone.