Apple Maps can now show you cycling directions on both your iPhone and Apple Watch. This includes turn-by-turn instructions that use haptic feedback and sounds that tell you where to turn. Here’s how to use it and an alternative you can use if Apple Maps isn’t yet up to par in your area.
Get Bike-Friendly Directions
There are a few different ways you can get cycling instructions on your iPhone and Apple Watch. The basic method is to open the Apple Maps app, find wherever it is you want to go using the search box, then tap “Directions.”
From here you can choose your mode of transport by tapping the appropriate icon, in this instance a bicycle. If cycling instructions are supported in your region, you will see them listed with the estimated duration of your trip, the total distance, and a visualization of the route’s elevation.
Swipe up to reveal a few more options, including whether or not you want Maps to avoid hills and busy roads (potentially increasing travel time.) If you tap on the route duration, you will see a list of directions that you’ll have to follow, with an indicator to let you know whether the route is taking a dedicated bike path, separated bike lane, or side road.
When you’re ready, hit “Go” and you’ll see your directions appear. You can swipe through the various steps at the top of the screen, or simply wait for them to update based on your location.
Follow Cycling Directions on Apple Watch
When you tap “Go,” directions are sent to your Apple Watch. Simply lift your wrist and you should see your current directions listed. If you don’t see anything, open the “Apple Maps” companion app on your Apple Watch, then tap on your route when it appears.
If directions aren’t working, open the “Apple Watch” app on your iPhone, find Maps, and tap on it. Make sure that “Cycling” is enabled under “Turn Alerts,” and turn off or on any other types of instruction you want to receive on your Watch.
But you don’t have to use your iPhone at all to get directions right on your Apple Watch. Siri can help you find your way to just about anywhere, provided cycling directions are supported in your area. To do this, simply trigger Siri and state where you want to go.
For some idea of what you can ask:
- “Hey Siri, get me cycling directions home.”
- “Hey Siri, get me cycling directions to the nearest 7-11.”
- “Hey Siri, how long will it take me to cycle to work?”
If you choose to use your Apple Watch for directions, you will get haptic notifications and sound alerts to indicate when you need to turn left or right. A low tone followed by a high tone means turn right at the next intersection, while a high tone followed by a low one means turn left.
If you switch to a Watch face while getting directions, you can quickly get back there by tapping the small “Apple Maps” icon that appears at the top center of the face.
Google Maps Is a Solid Alternative for Cyclists
For many, Apple Maps simply doesn’t offer cycling directions yet. While waiting for Apple to play catch up, Google Maps already has an impressive index of cycling routes. This could make Google Maps a better cycling companion for many.
Google Maps works virtually identically to Apple Maps in this regard. Launch the app, find your destination, tap on the cycling icon, and hit “Start” to go. You can then open the “Google Maps” companion app on your Apple Watch to get turn-by-turn directions.
On an iPhone, Google Maps makes it easier to plan your route, too. Tap on the layers icon in the top-right corner of the screen and enable “Cycling” under “Map Details” to see all bike lanes, separated paths, and cycleways highlighted in dark green.
You can use this overview to plan your route, adding multiple stops using the route planner if you want. Both Google and Apple’s mapping apps attempt to find cycle-friendly routes, but you should still use discretion and your knowledge of the local area to pick routes that are safe and suited to your cycling ability.
Consider a Bike Mount, Too
The Apple Watch is an excellent aid in navigating urban and rural settings, but for at-a-glance instructions, you can’t beat an iPhone in a proper bike mount. These come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap clamps to whole mounting systems like the Quad Lock.
If you want an experience that’s closer to what you’d get from a GPS in a car, a bike mount (and a USB battery bank) will do the job.