Querying Directions with MapKit: A Guide to Implementing Navigation and Route Planning in iOS Development

Querying Directions with MapKit

In iOS development, MapKit is a powerful framework that allows you to integrate maps and location services into your application. One of the key features of MapKit is the ability to query directions between two or more locations. This feature is extremely useful for creating applications that require navigation or route planning functionality.

Setting Up MapKit

Before we can start querying directions, we need to make sure that MapKit is set up properly in our project. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open your project in Xcode.
  2. Go to your project settings by clicking on the project name in the Project Navigator.
  3. Select your target and go to the „Build Phases“ tab.
  4. Under „Link Binary With Libraries“, make sure that MapKit.framework is listed. If not, click on the „+“ button and add it.

Querying Directions

Once MapKit is set up, we can start querying directions. The MapKit framework provides a class called MKDirections that handles the process of querying directions. Here’s an example of how to use it:

import MapKit

let source = MKPlacemark(coordinate: CLLocationCoordinate2D(latitude: 37.7749, longitude: -122.4194))
let destination = MKPlacemark(coordinate: CLLocationCoordinate2D(latitude: 34.0522, longitude: -118.2437))

let request = MKDirections.Request()
request.source = MKMapItem(placemark: source)
request.destination = MKMapItem(placemark: destination)
request.transportType = .automobile

let directions = MKDirections(request: request)
directions.calculate { (response, error) in
guard let response = response else {
if let error = error {
print("Error calculating directions: \(error.localizedDescription)")

for route in response.routes {
print("Distance: \(route.distance)")
print("ETA: \(route.expectedTravelTime)")
for step in route.steps {
print("Step: \(step.instructions)")

In this example, we create two MKPlacemark objects representing the source and destination locations. We then create an MKDirections.Request object and set the source, destination, and transport type. The transport type can be set to `.automobile`, `.walking`, or `.transit` depending on the mode of transportation you want to query directions for.

We then create an MKDirections object with the request and call the `calculate(completionHandler:)` method. This method asynchronously calculates the directions and provides a response or an error.

In the completion handler, we first check if the response is not nil. If it is nil, we check if there is an error and print it out. If the response is not nil, we can iterate through the routes and steps of the response to access information about the directions. In this example, we print out the distance and estimated travel time of each route, as well as the instructions for each step.

Displaying Directions on a Map

While printing out the directions is useful for debugging purposes, most applications would want to display the directions on a map interface. MapKit provides several classes for this purpose, including MKMapView, MKPolyline, and MKGeodesicPolyline.

Here’s an example of how to display the directions on a map:

import MapKit

let mapView = MKMapView(frame: CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 320, height: 480))

// Set up the map view...

let polyline = MKPolyline(points: route.polyline.points(), count: route.polyline.pointCount)

In this example, we create an MKMapView object and add it to our view hierarchy. We then create an MKPolyline object using the coordinates from a route’s polyline property and add it to the map view using the `addOverlay(_:)` method.

To display the polyline correctly, you also need to implement the `mapView(_:rendererFor:)` method in the MKMapViewDelegate and return an appropriate MKPolylineRenderer object. Here’s an example:

func mapView(_ mapView: MKMapView, rendererFor overlay: MKOverlay) -> MKOverlayRenderer {
if let polyline = overlay as? MKPolyline {
let renderer = MKPolylineRenderer(polyline: polyline)
renderer.strokeColor = UIColor.blue
renderer.lineWidth = 3
return renderer

return MKOverlayRenderer(overlay: overlay)

In this example, we check if the overlay is an MKPolyline and create an MKPolylineRenderer object for it. We then set the stroke color and line width properties of the renderer. If the overlay is not an MKPolyline, we return a default MKOverlayRenderer object.


Querying directions with MapKit is a powerful feature that allows you to provide navigation and route planning functionality in your iOS applications. By using the MKDirections class, you can easily query directions between two or more locations. Additionally, by using the MKMapView and related classes, you can display the directions on a map interface for a more user-friendly experience.

Remember to take advantage of the various properties and methods provided by the MapKit framework to customize the display and behavior of the directions in your application. Happy coding!

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