As part of iOS 13, the new Maps app includes better organization of favorite places. It also adds support for what Apple calls ‘Look Around’, an Apple take on the popular Google Maps Street View feature.

You can jump into this mode by tapping a binoculars button in the Maps app. The binoculars only appear when Apple has imagery for the current area — right now the easiest way to find somewhere to try this is to search for the Columbus Tower in San Francisco.

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When you first press the Look Around button, a small rectangular overlay appears over the top of the map cartography.

This Look Around window shows you the street-level imagery from the current location. You can pan and zoom around in the small picture-in-picture, or drag on the Map and move the placemarker laterally. If you roughly drag, it will snap to the nearest road.

You can stay in this window if you just need to get a quick glance or press the Zoom button to make the experience go full screen. Identifying elements, like human faces and car number plates, are blurred out.

Points of interests are overlaid in the same 3D space and you can tap on them to see storefronts head-on with the same detail cards that you get in the standard 2D Maps experience.

You can tap further down the street and it will lurch forward to move to the new location. The transition from the current place to the new destination is like a smoothed stop-frame animation; the intermediate frames are actually additional images and not just a blur effect. Apple made a big deal about this and the keynote and rightly so — it feels great.

The biggest drawback to this feature is that it obviously depends on the breadth and depth of Apple Maps’ data collection. Whereas Google has street-view imagery of the majority of the planet, Apple is only just starting collecting this photography. It will take time, likely years, before Apple’s image database is large enough that you can come to depend on it.

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