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Monday, February 1, 2016

3D Map Tours with Apple Maps

With today's academic and scheduling demands, actual field trips aren't always possible. Luckily for today's teacher, virtual field trip opportunities are abundant! A quick and easy "go to" tool is typically Google Earth, as you can zoom in, "stand" on the roads, and turn in a complete circle to see everything around you. 

Until recently, I didn't know that the default Apple Maps app has virtual field trip opportunities, as well -- in the form of "tours." 

Although there is not a tour for every city [yet, anyway!], the tours that are offered provide plenty of classroom fun.

How to access city tours in Apple Maps:

1. Launch the default Maps app, whose icon looks like this:

2. Navigate the map to a large city of your choice by sliding your finger across the screen. {In honor of being in Austin, Texas this week for the TCEA conference, the examples in this post are all about Austin!} 

Any city that has a little black and white bubble next to it that says "3D" has a tour available. For instance, when I look at Texas, I see the "3D" bubble next to Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. If you tap a bubble that says "3D," you should see the name of the city on the right and a blue box that says "Tour" on the left, as shown below:

As soon as you click "Tour," the map zooms in to the city, and you start an up-close flyover. Captions at the bottom show you what you're looking at. The tours I saw took you through the city and showed off local landmarks. Here are a few screenshots from my Austin, Texas tour {click any of the pictures to enlarge them}:



  • Free.
  • The app comes pre-downloaded onto iPhones and iPads, so you're ready to tour right out of the box. 
  • If you mirror your device to your laptop, you can then display the tour on your Promethean board for all students to see.
  • The tours take just a minute or two, so students get a good look at the city without taking up lots of precious instructional time.

  • The flyover goes fairly quickly, so it's easy to miss things if you're not watching carefully every second!
  • The only way I could figure out to pause the tour is just to tap the screen {which can be annoying for long periods of time}. I couldn't find a way to rewind or fast-forward at all. 
  • Tours aren't available for every city.

Assuming a 3D tour is available for the particular location you need, I could see this feature being used during reading {to help students understand the setting of the book}, social studies {to make geography come to life}, and science {to show land forms and examples of scientific concepts}. 

If you're interested in more virtual field trip opportunities, consider visiting this Pinterest board:

       Follow Candice's board Virtual Field Trips on Pinterest.