In stand-alone automotive GPS systems if you just have it on but have not programmed in a specific destination it will show your moving on an active scrolling street map of the road you are on and any roads that are currently within the default zoom area.

So you get a display that shows your car stationary in the middle of the screen with the map moving around you. I found this extremely helpful when I am in locations that I am not real familiar with or just exploring to get the lay of the land. It's also good for finding shortcuts that you were not previously aware of.

If I open Apple maps (or Waze or Google maps...) tap on the locator (Apple maps arrow at top right) to display my current location the map does not follow me. I eventually drive off the displayed map and would have to tap the arrow to re-center the map. Needless to say operating a phone while you are driving is both Not Really Safe and unlawful in many parts of the US.

Is that something that Apple Maps does and I have not discovered how to activate it? Anybody know what that feature is called?

  • 1
    And this is on all Apps? Waze, Google maps, etc. or just Apple Maps? Jun 13, 2018 at 14:00
  • It works fine for me on Apple Maps. I do have background app refresh turned on for Maps but i don't know if that impacts this or not.
    – fsb
    Jun 13, 2018 at 15:05
  • Josh, Apple Maps is the target but if someone knows how to do it in Google Maps or Waze... Jun 13, 2018 at 16:09
  • @fsb that seemed to do the trick. It is a bit finicky and unfortunately the display sleeps (grrr....). Perhaps if I plugged it in. Thx, if you make your comment an answer I'll give you credit. Jun 14, 2018 at 13:37
  • Glad it worked!
    – fsb
    Jun 14, 2018 at 13:51

2 Answers 2


Make sure you have background app refresh turned on for Maps.

Go to Settings -> Maps and in the Allow Maps to Access section, turn on Background App Refresh and Cellular Data.

Also, be sure you allow Maps to use your location by tapping Location and selecting While Using the App.

This is what I have done and the app follows me when I move. I'm not sure if this is the root answer to your issue but it's how I have it setup and it works for me.


Many years later and I still find myself wanting this type of functionality. The main reason I typically want this is to see curves coming up in the road, so I need the map to follow me and for it to orient itself to my perspective. It sometimes difficult cognitively to reorient the map in my head to determine left/right, east/west, etc.

I employ two options:

  1. Just enter in some sort of destination near the general area I'm heading. If I'm making my own way, the navigation will generally re-route well enough. Occasionally, I find that it will tell me to u-turn for quite a while, but the display is usually still useful. I can definitely be distracting though.
  2. Google Maps on iPhones now has a mode somewhat like this. When tapping the arrow (find me/follow me) icon the map will tilt forward, and rotate to face the direction I'm headed in. It's not as good as dedicated car navigation, but it decent. The biggest downside to this is how cluttered Google Maps is when not in navigation mode. It tries to recommend all sorts of restaurants and "local guides" type crap I'm not interested in.

Both work alright, but #1 is my go to. If I have the luxury of planning my trip ahead of time, I'll find key points I want to navigate to, put them in the Reminders app with the URL field containing the Apple Maps URL, and I'll "check" them off the list as I reach them, then tap the next destination. That at least keeps Maps from making overly direct routes, since the directions are in small segments.

An example:

Say I want to circumnavigate a city clockwise, going from the north side to the south side. Typically, any navigation app will route me straight south through the city. To form a meandering route, I'd drop a pin in Maps somewhere around 2 o'clock on the outskirts of the city. I'll "Share" the pin, and choose "Copy to Clipboard", then create a Reminder with that as the URL, and label it something like Point 1 or the name of the neighborhood I'm aiming for. Then I'd drop another pin at around 4 o'clock on the Map around the general area I want to hit, copy its URL, and add another Reminder for Point 2, and my final destination at around 6 o'clock. I'll do this with as many points as I need to form my course that the navigation will generally stick to. It's usually only a handful for a given day-trip.

Another good step is getting directions between Point 1 and 2, and 3, 3 and 4, etc.

Once I think Apple Maps will navigate me between points without trying to take me too far off my general route, I can start getting directions to each point, and checking them off the list one by one. This means I have to manually change the directions as I reach these intermediate destinations. I'll typically do this re-routing at stop lights as I near the end of a route segment. Apple Maps does the re-routing to the intermediate destinations automatically of course, so that still may be annoying, but with this "workflow" I like that functionality overall.

I recently did a trip like this that I pre-routed, even though I previewed routes for specific segments, on the day of things were different, so I missed a good chunk of road I wanted to see. It's important to really nail the places you want to see, so although it can be a pain to keep choosing a new destination, more "stops" in your route may be a better option. Ignoring the directions a bit more is another option, that probably takes more mental discipline. (Once you're navigating in the app, it's easy to forget you're also exploring.)

I'm still looking for the "Garmin" type experience on an iPhone.

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