Thursday, June 2, 2022

Apple Maps in 2022

xkcd (via John Gruber):

Apple Maps is kind of good now

Nick Heer:

To give credit where credit is due, the directions provided by Apple Maps were generally very good. It still tells me to make a u-turn when it is legally prohibited, but I vastly prefer the format and timing of its spoken directions to Google’s.

But — holy crap — do its place listings remain poor. Many of the restaurants, bars, and attractions I searched were listed with incorrect hours, or had other details that were clearly wrong.


However, I use Apple Maps often enough that I want it to be better, so I reported these problems to Apple. Over the past few days, I have received notifications indicating these places have been updated. But when I check, my fixes are not in place and the details I reported are still wrong.

It’s been a while since I used Apple Maps. Maybe it’s time to try it again. I normally have great results with Google Maps, but I recently did some driving in Boston—near Google’s Cambridge offices—and while the maps themselves seemed accurate the suggested routes were absurd. I’ve seen similar problems around Portland, ME. I’m not sure what’s up.

TomTom (via Hacker News):

“Higher levels of automation and the integration of a variety of digital sources will result in fresher and richer maps, with wider coverage,” said Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom. “These better maps will improve our product offerings and allow us to address a broader market, both in the Automotive and Enterprise businesses”.

The improvement in our mapmaking technology will lead to material efficiency gains. Combined with a better map, this will strengthen our competitive position. Regrettably, this will have an intended impact on approximately 500 employees in our Maps unit, equivalent to around 10% of our total global headcount.


5 Comments RSS · Twitter

My wife and I are from Boston, and have always been fans of both Waze and Google Maps. We recently spent two and a half weeks in the L.A. area. Her daughters live out there, and they SWEAR by Apple Maps, so we tried it out. As you know, the roads out there are "challenging", and Apple Maps was, IMO, by FAR the best option. The spoken directions were excellent, and the display was nicer all around. Also, critical to L.A. driving, the view shows what lanes to be in at any given point for an exit... often there would be 2 exit lanes for a 6 lane highway, for example. The "next turn after this" display is subtle but excellent as well. All things considered, the only reason I wouldn't switch entirely is Waze's police reporting function.

Apple's international rollout of its new maps is still a long way off competing with Google's coverage. And as Nick Heer noted, its business info is poor.

On the other hand, I was recently stuck in 1.5hrs of gridlocked traffic while traversing 4 city blocks. Google Maps never stopped estimating a 20 minute journey time during the entire debacle (and is the reason I ended up stuck in it in the first place). Apple Maps surprised me by estimating the journey time correctly. Sadly I was already stuck with no way out by the time I thought to check it.

Yeah, I agree with Rob W and others that Apple’s maps UI is nicer than Google’s in a lot of subtle but noticeable ways. Both in terms of the overall structure of the app (controls reachable at bottom of the screen, less cluttered), as well as the directions while navigating (I find the lane guidance and other info easier to discern).

I just wish that when apple added the one handed double-tap-and-drag to zoom gesture, that they hadn’t made it zoom in the opposite direction to Google Maps (which had the same gesture pre-dating Apple by years). Trips me up whenever I switch between apps.

What is going on with the Native M1 version of Google Earth Pro?
All there seems to be is an Intel version.

Apple Maps still lacks in data, especially in POI.

It is, however, much nicer in every other aspect — it's more visually attractive, and the UI makes a lot more sense to me.

I recently ended up deciding on Google Maps to help plan trips on an island, and 1) it wasn't always right (for example, it insisted on certain bars being there that… clearly hadn't been for years), but Apple Maps would've been worse, 2) it generally got the job done, 3) the UI was bad. So bad. I cannot believe how bad. Things like: a) during an ongoing navigation, I found myself wondering "um, am I in a navigation? If so, how do I edit and/or end it?"; b) when switching apps back and forth, it would suddenly decide to show me a different town (while I was navigating??); c) I searched for gas stations while navigating (as, you know, one might want to do??), and not only did that take me to entirely the wrong town, it also made it completely forget that I was trying to go somewhere.

Maybe some of the UI conventions make more sense when you're on Android, but from my vantage point, "not intuitive" is too kind for Google Maps.

So, I'm glad Apple Maps has been steadily improving. I just wish the pace weren't as bad, especially with the features that take years or forever to roll out internationally. (E.g., no cycling directions here, when Google Maps has had those for a long time.)

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