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Apple wants iOS 18 users to take a hike

Apple is making a serious play to become hikers’ device maker of choice and those efforts are continuing with the iOS 18 updates this year.

On Monday, Apple announced it is introducing Messaging via Satellite as a key new iPhone feature in iOS 18, which will enable off-the-grid folks to connect with loved ones even when bereft of reception.

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That follows the Emergency SOS tool that leverages satellites to connect iPhone owners with the emergency services, which was launched alongside the iPhone 14.

The company’s appeal to hikers became even more pronounced this week with a lesser publicised feature – the inclusion of hiking routes in the Apple Maps apps in iOS 18.

Apple is adding hiking rotes for 63 national parks in the United States, with thousands of hikes to choose from – all sorted by length, elevation and route type. And, of course, they can be saved for offline use.

It’ll also be possible to create custom walking routes to plan everything “from a local exercise route to a full-day walking tour in a new city,” Apple said in a Newsroom post.

All of the pre-made and custom hikes can be saved to the new Places library in Maps, where you can add personal notes. Apple is also bringing the topographic maps from watchOS 10 to iOS 18 too.

Apple’s efforts to entice and support endurance athletes kicked into geat with the Apple Watch Ultra range, which offers far greater battery life, improved GPS connectivity and a more durable design. There’s a brighter screen, a built-in compass and the ability to see the waypoint to where you last experienced connectivity with a mobile network.

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