Monday, April 22, 2024

Apple Maps in Tokyo

Joe Rosensteel:

When searching for a business, like your hotel which is part of a very large hotel chain, Google will show the one saved in your list as the first search result when you start typing. Apple Maps will show you the search results in the same order you’d see them otherwise, but it will write “in your guide” under the hotel that could be further down the list.


Apple Maps is also bad if you move the map to an area and want to search within that area. It’ll snap back to where you are and search that area first.


If I had upgraded from 14.4.0 to 14.4.1 while I was traveling I would need to catch this error with enough time to re-download my offline maps, especially the offline maps for the city I was in.


Apple Maps is not very good for English-speaking tourists in Japan. Apple Maps Japanese data is from its partnerships with local Japanese companies. That’s great for locals, but that means things like restaurant reviews are in Japanese. Again, this is helpful if you speak Japanese, and very relevant to the residents of Japan, but far less accessible to me, an English-speaking traveler.


The crowds in some of these places in Japan are no joke. Google Maps has had the ability to show a little bar graph for every location for how busy a place is throughout the day, in addition to how busy it currently is. It’s had this feature since 2016.


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I'm not sure I agree with the suggestion that showing local data is bad as a tourist.

I recently spent a week vacationing in Japan, and it's fairly well-known that that locals using a site like Tabelog review very differently than Google Reviews. I found the ratings and links very helpful. Using Tabelog on its own is a little tricky, since you need to have your search in Japanese as well. But getting in via Apple Maps was actually pretty helpful.

But, look, I'm the guy that has two maps apps on my home screen and have since Apple Maps was released. They each have strengths and weaknesses and I use both interchangeably. When traveling I do preference Google Maps, but that's largely because the collaborative lists are much more useful than Apple Maps' Guides which don't support multiple editors. (I also find, I do prefer desktop Google Maps over the Maps app, but that's likely habit..)

Apple Maps transit directions do now include car boarding recommendations for Japan which is great. Admittedly, that's one of the fewer bits of UI where I actually vastly prefer Google Maps.

Both apps are great and yet infuriating at times.

Oh Buddha, save me from another "Gaijin Problems in Japan" story.

Having lived in Japan, this guy's complaints have little merit. Sure, Apple Maps sucks and so does a bunch of other stuff they make, but most of what this guy describes is due to some sort of cultural elitism.

No reviews in English? Who cares! Japanese people rarely leave reviews anyway. Even if you could read them, they're worthless. Why is he looking at reviews when he could just walk by some restaurants and see if they look appealing? It literally takes less than 5 minutes to find a good restaurant in Tokyo or Osaka -- they're everywhere. Japan is not the US where a large fraction of restaurants are terrible. Even the places that look drab and crusty are usually amazing.

Complaining that transit directions and walking directions don't work? Jesus, all the transit stops have English signage. Japanese transit has the best wayfinding of anywhere I've ever been -- there are even compass roses embedded into the sidewalk at most subway entrances, as well as throughout many of the stations. All you have to do is look at the map ahead of time, remember to exit at Exit 4, then head west when you get to street level, walk 3 blocks, then turn right for 1 block, and you're at your destination. It's not that hard.

And whining about crowds? That's like complaining about being stuck in traffic. You ARE the crowd.

I thought this couldn't get worse, but Uber in Japan? When there are taxis driven by professional drivers EVERYWHERE. I can't even.

This guy sounds like an entitled ass who doesn't know a single thing about the country that he's visiting, and wants to look at his phone for every possible scenario instead of attempting to interact with a Japanese person. Pathetic.

I've given up on Apple Maps since it *still* has problems with Japanese addresses written out in Romaji (Latin alphabet). It once took me like 2 kilometers away because it decided to flip some numbers around (3-1-1 turned into a 1-3-1). Even more insulting is the fact that when I type out the address in Japanese on a device set to English, it'll just show the very same address it just failed to look up properly, translated to English.

I really did give Apple Maps a shot, but when it can't handle addresses typed in a pretty standard format, what else is left for me to try? Give it raw GPS coordinates?

@Exhik's problem is very similar to how Apple Maps functions (or doesn't) in Korea too. Google is pretty good at figuring out place names in either English spellings or Korean. Apple Maps, meanwhile, is weird. Some places exist only by Korean name, some only apparently by that name in English. Many addresses are missing completely, and Apple seems to often confuse the order of the address parts (like most of Asia, locations go from bigger to smaller, not vice versa). Here too they seem to get their data from a local partner (similar to Google), but seem to struggle incorporating that data into the standard Maps functionality. My "Home" address cannot be saved, so I can never ask Siri for directions home. I can drop a pin in my home, and use that for manually starting navigation. Of course navigation is much less effective here than in USA. It often gives me routes that are wildly inefficient or impossible due to traffic rules. Of course it lacks any of the toll gate or lane info, and often wants me to make turns that are illegal. Additionally, there is no public transit or biking directions whatsoever. It's just a fundamentally sub-par experience. Everyone here uses a local map app anyway, so I doubt anyone but tourists would even try using Apple Maps here. Good luck to them: finding their destinations is going to be difficult.

"Apple Maps is also bad if you move the map to an area and want to search within that area. It’ll snap back to where you are and search that area first."

This has made me fly into a rage so many times.

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