ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS

Migrating from Google's Maps SDK to the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS

Have your costs to include Google maps in your application drastically increased with the pricing changes Google introduced last year? If so, you aren’t alone. This price increase has driven many iOS developers migrate to the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, ArcGIS Runtime is a state-of-the-art mapping technology that provides support for many different types of map data. Not only can you visualize, explore and interact with large amounts of geospatial data in 2D and 3D, but you can also search for places and addresses, find the best routes between multiple locations, and manipulate all this spatial data on the client to build truly powerful interactive location based apps.

Second, you get a lot for free with an ArcGIS for Developers “Essentials” plan:

Find out more about what’s included with the Essentials plan in our FAQ.

Get started with the Runtime SDK

Simply sign up for a free developer account at (no payment info needed).

Next, download and install the SDK here (installation of the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS via Cocoapods or manual install is covered in this guide topic).

It’s that easy. There’s no API key needed to get rolling. You’re ready to go.

Now let’s look at some common scenarios and how to translate from Google’s approach to the ArcGIS Runtime SDK.

Display a map

First of all, let’s add a map to an iOS application.

Basemap in Runtime SDK

Here’s how you display a simple map using Google’s Maps SDK for iOS:

import UIKit
import GoogleMaps

class DemoViewController: UIViewController {
  override func loadView() {
    let camera = 40.72,
                                            longitude: -74, 
                                            zoom: 6.0)
    let mapView = .zero, camera: camera)
    view = mapView

And here’s the same map using the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS:

import UIKit
import ArcGIS

class DemoViewController: UIViewController {
  override func loadView() {
    let mapView = AGSMapView(frame: .zero) = AGSMap(basemapType: .navigationVector,
                         latitude: 40.72, longitude: -74, 
                         levelOfDetail: 6)
    view = mapView

Notice the reference to a basemap. A basemap typically includes roads, buildings, satellite imagery, place names, boundaries etc. that give your application’s data some context.

You can choose from many ready-to-use basemaps from both Esri and third parties, and can style your own using the Vector Tile Style Editor.

Notice also that Runtime uses both a map and a map view. The map view is the UI component that handles user interactions and display of the map while the map is responsible for defining the data to be displayed (including the basemap).

Add a marker

Now we’ll add some information to the map.

In Google’s Maps SDK for iOS, you add a marker:

class DemoViewController: UIViewController {
  override func loadView() {
    // Create and add a marker
    let marker = GMSMarker()
    marker.position = CLLocationCoordinate2D(latitude: 40.72, longitude: -74)
    marker.title = "New York"
    marker.snippet = "USA" = mapView

The ArcGIS Runtime SDK equivalent is to add a graphic to a graphics overlay:

class DemoViewController: UIViewController {
  // Create a graphics overlay to contain graphics.
  let overlay = AGSGraphicsOverlay()

  override func loadView() {
    // Add the graphics overlay to the map view.

    // Create a graphic and add it to the graphics overlay.
    let graphic = AGSGraphic(geometry: AGSPointMakeWGS84(40.72, -74), 
                               symbol: AGSSimpleMarkerSymbol(style: .circle, 
                                                                color: .red, 
                                                                size: 10),
                               attributes: [ "city": "New York",
                                             "country": "USA" ])
A Runtime SDK map with a simple marker

A graphic is a combination of geometry (in this case a point, but it could be a polyline or polygon), attribute content (key-value pairs), and a display style (known as a symbol in the Runtime). Graphics are very flexible, and you can think of a marker as just a very simple point graphic.

You’ll notice that we need to configure the map view with a graphics overlay to contain the graphics we want to show. Graphics overlays and Layers provide a powerful model for data access and for displaying data from various sources. For more on this, see the guide topics on Maps and scenes and on Layers and tables.

Display information

In the Runtime SDK, you display information associated with a map location using a callout, which is associated with a map view, and which you must explicitly display or dismiss.

Runtime Callout of New York

To show a callout when tapping a graphic:

  1. Make sure that the DemoViewController can respond to map view interactions by declaring conformance to AGSGeoViewTouchDelegate and setting the AGSMapView.touchDelegate appropriately.
  2. Implement the tap gesture delegate handler.
  3. Tell the Runtime to identify any graphics where the user tapped the map.
  4. Display a suitable callout if necessary.
class DemoViewController: UIViewController, AGSGeoViewTouchDelegate {
  override func loadView() {

    // Set the map view's touch delegate.
    mapView.touchDelegate = self

  // Handle the AGSGeoViewTouchDelegate tap event.
  func geoView(_ geoView: AGSGeoView, didTapAtScreenPoint screenPoint: CGPoint, mapPoint: AGSPoint) {

    // Identify which graphic, if any, the user tapped on.
    geoView.identify(overlay, screenPoint: screenPoint, 
                     tolerance: 20, returnPopupsOnly: false) 
      { result in

      if let tappedGraphic = {
        // Populate the configure the callout.
        geoView.callout.title = tappedGraphic.attributes["city"] as? String
        geoView.callout.detail = tappedGraphic.attributes["country"] as? String
        geoView.callout.isAccessoryButtonHidden = true

        // Show the callout. tappedGraphic, tapLocation: mapPoint, animated: true)
      } else {
        // The user didn't tap on a graphic, so dismiss any existing callout.

Callouts can display simple information by default, but can be configured to varying degrees. You can even specify a custom view to use.

The ArcGIS Runtime gives you full control over how you respond to user interactions with your map view, as well as convenient APIs for common responses to those interactions. In this case, we want to identify what was tapped and provide feedback using a callout.

Next steps & more resources

We’ve just scratched the surface of what the ArcGIS Runtime SDK can do for you. Here are some of the many resources available to you as you take the next steps in building location based apps with the Runtime:

One last thing. While this post has focused on the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS, there are ArcGIS Runtime SDKs for Android, .NET (including Xamarin for cross-platform development), macOS, Java and Qt (again for cross-platform solutions) all of which provide the same great functionality in a consistent set of APIs.

About the author

Nick Furness is a Product Manager for the ArcGIS Maps SDKs for Native Apps, and ArcGIS Maps SDKs for Game Engines, specializing in Swift and iOS. He's spent over 25 years working in the GIS space building projects ranging from small mom-and-pop solutions all the way up to enterprise utility and national government deployments. Nick presents at various Esri Developer Summits, the User Conference, and many other events, almost always talking about something to do with the Native Maps SDKs (although you might find the odd bit of JavaScript thrown in there).


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