Apple Maps Are the Worst Maps (at Least in the UK)

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.

Magenta fizz copy

(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.

Home

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:

Apple maps

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:

Google maps

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.

Waze

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.

0 thoughts on “Apple Maps Are the Worst Maps (at Least in the UK)

  1. Well if you want serious Satellite Navigation, I wouldn’t use any ‘download as you go’ type solutions, such as Apple or Google Maps. I’ve never tried Waze as that’s based on the free community sourced maps and I’ve long been using a fully paid for Sat.Nav. app that has successfully taken me all over Europe with no routing problems such as you’re experiencing here.

    I have to agree that Apple Maps is sub-par in many respects. It is very handy to have it built-in to the OS which can then quickly show you where is a particular location, but for serious routing, nah. The few occasions I have used it for basic routing it has worked, but with no routing options like ‘Shortest’ or ‘Quickest’ and being ONLY point to point with no way to include waypoints along the way, it’s a non-starter for me.

    I think it’s clear that Apple don’t intend it to compete with serious Sat.Nav. apps otherwise it simply couldn’t be this bad.

    • Google Maps has always been excellent. Before with had GPS in our other car, we used that all the time. The problem with in-car GPS is that it’s not updated often, and after a couple of years, you have to pay for updates. Also, they don’t get the same level of real-time traffic info.

      Google Maps offers multiple routes when there are differences worth considering, as many as three, if I recall. And you can include waypoints, though it’s not easy to do. But, the ability to prepare routes on the phone before getting into the car makes that much more practical than using a touch screen in a car. (https://support.google.com/maps/answer/144339)

      To be honest, I don’t do that kind of traveling; it’s really just from one point to another, so that’s not a big deal for me.

  2. That’s been my experience in both the US and UK. And while Google is quite good in the Middle East, Apple Maps isn’t.

  3. Apple Maps may have been “improved” in the USA, but not here; and most certainly not in Wales where I now live. After all, the UK is a tiny land mass and it should be a doddle to have the entire area mapped out in detail. Google Maps does a vastly better job in Wales and Northern England which are the commonest areas I visit. I’m from Scotland and on the relatively few times I go there now, Google >>>Apple Maps.
    One slight disagreement I have with a previous post – a good built-in SatNav beats them all. Not all SatNavs are equal, I concede and I’m lucky that I have a relatively upmarket vehicle (Lexus); but it’s SatNav updates itself and is very highly accurate. And actually much easier to set up and use than Google or Apple. No Siri, of course. Not a big deal for me.

    • Yes, I think when you get to that level of car, the onboard satnav is going to be a better solution, especially if they do update automatically. With our Yaris, my partner had a number of problems last year going to visit her daughter in Manchester, because of some new roads that the satnav did not know.

  4. Not true. Apple Maps has been our saviour when other apps have failed. Granularity may be an issue but still impossible to get Google-based Maps apps to follow nd our postcode after 3 years.

  5. Cute car, Kirk?

    Apple Maps has worked well for me on the US east coast. As an example, one time I was on a job at a confusing industrial park late at night. I told Siri “take me home” and she found the correct back way out of the park and to get on the Long Island Expressway, all with a real deficit of road signage. What a relief.
    As another example, I was getting onto the belt around Washington DC and Siri told me exactly which lane to in in order to miss one exit and merge onto another expressway. I was amazed.

    Also, at least 4 times I have sent in corrections and Apple made the changes, sometimes to road names, sometimes moving stores to their new locations.

  6. Dear Kirk,

    My wife and I used Apple Maps for three weeks while driving in England this past May and June. The use was from Heathrow to Cornwall then back to Windsor and, finally, ending again in Heathrow. It only “failed” me once and that was driving to see the King Edward Mine Museum in Cornwall. Apple Maps chose the shortest route which became one of England’s one lane country roads where the width was slightly less than one car width as the hedges had yet to be trimmed back. Otherwise, no problems.

    A wonderful plus for Apple Maps occurred when we were driving from Truro to Windsor. When we first got on the M5, Apple Maps recommend that we take the next exit and an alternate route in order save two hours due to an accident. That was very appreciated and impressive.

    BTW, impressive car color. I have not seen that color in California.

    • To be fair, any of the map apps will re-route you according to traffic conditions. You probably don’t notice as many of the problems with apps like this apps n a foreign country.

  7. In South London Apple Maps is now very good. There are times when I think it has just lost the plot, driving from Warwick back home but it turned that the M40 was completely blocked and it took us the best way it could. I think the algorithm is “learning” from all the other iPhones on the roads around and looking at traffic patterns. The estimated arrival time has become incredibly accurate, even crossing London.
    Mitsubishi expect me to pay £300+ to upgrade the dashboard maps, based on Nokia mapping system. Criminal!
    Would not use Waze these days for the same reason wouldn’t use Google … Waze is Google owned and I have an aversion to telling them another detail of my life.

  8. I live in Fife, and use Apple Maps a lot in Central Scotland. It works extremely well for route navigation, for bus routes and for walking. Superb in Edinburgh.

    I do not use Google products.

  9. Just when I started liking using Waze – I find out it is owned by Google.
    Purple is my favorite color so I like. your new ride.
    Kirk I would be interested in your impressions of Car Play. I rent vehicles frequently in my line of work and the ones I choose have Car Play. The one thing I notice is that on nearly every song played (from my iPhone or iPad) there is a split second “glitch” where the music is interrupted. Have you noticed this at all? What are your overall impressions of Car Play?

  10. Just another voice – on a trip from middle USA (Nebraska) to a very secluded address in upper MN, Siri (older minivan – no Apple car capabilities) navigated perfectly there and back, including stops at several private and business addresses. In my experience in Nebraska, both Apple Maps and Google Maps do a good job.

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