I got a new car yesterday, a Toyota Aygo, and this model came with the option to have Apple’s CarPlay, which I chose. When driving around my area yesterday, testing out CarPlay, I tried using Apple Maps for navigation. I really want to get away from Google Maps, because of their data collection, but Apple Maps has always been inferior. In my brief experience with the app in my car, it’s clear that it is pretty much unusable.
(They call this color “magenta fizz.”)
After driving the car home and eating lunch, I set out to drive a bit in my area, which is a rural part of the West Midlands, a few miles from Stratford-Upon-Avon. I began by asking Siri to take me to a local garden center. It found the business, and started giving me directions. I didn’t want to take the first turn down a small road – that way would have been a bit shorter, but I wanted to take a slightly longer route – and Maps reacted well, adjusting the route after a couple hundred yards. (Compared to the in-car GPS on my Toyota Yaris, which would have said “Recalculating route” almost immediately.) I got to the garden center, parked, then asked Siri for a new destination.
This one, a town a few miles away, didn’t turn out to well. I wanted to go to Long Marston, and Siri could simply not understand that name. It offered a number of alternatives, in London and in nearby Leamington Spa, and even wanted to take me to any of a number of Morrison’s supermarkets. I gave up and entered the name of the town in the search field on my iPhone.
All was well, until I got near the intersection of the road that runs through Long Marston. Maps wanted me to turn left, whereas the town was about one mile to the right. I turned right, and it was not able to correct its route, and kept telling me to return to the route.
I then decided to see if it could take me home, which was about three miles away. I thought this would be easy. It wasn’t.
I tried several times, and it failed each time. Later, when I got home, I checked that my home address was correctly entered on my contact card, and that that was selected in the Siri settings. While asking Siri “What is my address” led to the display of my contact card on my iPhone, it was not able to find directions to my home.
So, later that day, I was looking at planning a route to Bristol, for a trip sometime next month. I checked with Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze. And Apple Maps is clearly the worst. First, it couldn’t find the place I wanted to go to. The Martin Parr Foundation is an exhibit space and library founded by the photographer Martin Parr, and has been open since (I think) the beginning of the year. I visited the space in May, during a trip to Bristol, and had no trouble finding it with Google Maps at the time.
I then searched for its precise address in Apple Maps, and it was found. When I asked for directions, here’s what Apple Maps told me:
I don’t understand how it could not give me directions to this location; we’re in the same country, there are no ferries or tunnels involved, not even bridges.
Google Maps had no problem; as you can see, the route is pretty straight:
Nor did Waze, though its directions were wrong; there’s no need for me to head west to Worcester to go south; you can see that Waze wants me to drive 84 miles, compared to Google Maps’ route of 72 miles.
As much as I do want to stop using Google Maps, and I would like to use Apple’s solution, it’s just not realistic. While I don’t use Apple Maps often, when I do look at it in my area, I immediately find businesses that are not in the correct location. (Yes, I submit corrections when I can, but I’ve already done that dozens of times, which I think is ridiculous.)
Waze is generally good when you’re taking a long trip, but there’s no logic to its directions that go far out of the way, and take longer: 1:42 compared to 1:36 for Google Maps.
So Google wins again, alas. I wish Apple could fix their Maps app, but since it was launched, it’s been plagued by problems. I know that in the US, it has improved, but to be taken seriously in this space they need to improve everwhere.