Yup, Apple Maps Still Suck

Remember how big a disaster Apple Maps was when it launched last year?

When you searched for things they didn't show up, you were given wrong information, in certain parts of the world people were incorrectly diverted hundreds of miles off course.  Lots of people, even non geeky, non techie people knew it was a huge blunder.  People kicked and screamed to have get Google Maps back and since it was released I think that is what the majority of people have been using for maps on iPhone since.

Apple has claimed to be hard at work since then on updating data and fixing mistakes.  It's been quite a while from that time so I decided to spend the last few weeks using only Apple maps to get around.  Have things improved?  Nope, not at all from what I can see.  


The best thing about Apple Maps in my opinion is that they look great.  The detail of the maps and the navigation are just awesome.  But what good are looks when your data is bad?  

Google Maps are so great because they've spent years mapping out as much of the world as they can.  Apple bought a few mapping companies and use satellite data.  This in no way comes close to catching up on the information Google has amassed when you're talking cartography.  


The image to the right is what comes up when I search "ICA Museum Boston" in Apple Maps.  I'm searching for the Institute of Contemporary Arts which should be a major point of interest in the city.  The ICA is located on the waterfront in Boston.  What comes up here is some company in Brookline Massachusetts.  After nearly an entire year of Apple maps being available I can't search "ICA" in the Boston area and at least get other suggested results besides whatever this company is?  Ridiculous.  

Here's one that is even worse.  I wanted to search for an address in Waltham, another town in Massachusetts.  Since I am in the area I should be able to just search the street and get suggested results in my area.  I get zero suggestions though and Apple tells me about some address in Ohio. 


 I could give even more examples but just trust me when I say it is really bad.  Clearly after a year, Apple maps isn't even close to "there".  It will take years to get to the level of data Google has but it is pathetic that even this much time Apple can't get major landmarks in a major city correct or even know when I am searching for an address in a city that is only a few miles from my current location.  

Google Maps will be the go to for most but another app that I've been trying that is awesome is Waze.  It has great data even more so than Google in some cases, its navigation works well, and it has a bunch of cool social features.  I highly recommend it, especially over the abomination that is Apple Maps.  

Download Waze

iTunes  //  Google Play

Cool Apps: Field Trip

I love information.  I love learning new things about my hometown and the places I visit when I travel.  Whether it is a historical landmark, cool building, point of interest, or nice/interesting place to eat, I want to know about it.  Being into technology helps with all this because we are seeing so many advancements when it comes to social discovery and it makes it a lot easier to find out about cool things around you as you move throughout the world.  That is why I am really liking one of Googles new apps, Field Trip. 

First let me say that Google has really stepped it up over the past 6-12 months when it comes to software design.  Apps that used to be terrible now not only look good, but act as they should and are far less buggy.  Plus they are releasing quality new apps for both Android and iOS which is awesome.  This will force companies like Apple (which has sucked in terms of software lately) to innovate and compete more, which will only be better for consumers in the long run.  Alright so lets jump into the app.

The basic idea of the app is that it monitors your location as you move around, and when you get close to points of interest, it sends you a notification.  By default it wants to tell you about everything it can but you can filter it down to only the things in which you're interested.  You can view via a list view or by map as you travel, and as far as the notifications go, you can get a lot, a little or none at all.  I really feel like Google has thought of everything with this app.  


What I thought was the most neat was the topics and sources you can choose from to let Field Trip know what to tell you.  You can filter by architecture, historic places, lifestyle, offers, food & drink, cool & unique, and arts & museums.  And if you tap into each one of those categories you can pick from a list of sources and tell each one of those to show you more, less, or nothing at all if you uncheck the checkbox.  Again I really feel like they thought of everything here.  For example, I was driving the other day and got a notification to go to Chipotle. Chipotle? REALLY?  Not only is that place an embarrassment of a food establishment but I don't need an app to tell me to visit one so I was easily able to go into the settings and shut off anything that might tell me to go to food places like that.  


I've been using the app since it came out just in the area where I live and work and have already found some neat things close to home that I never knew existed.  I can only imaging what I'll find when I take this app on a vacation with me.  

Field Trip is free for iOS, and of course Android.

Download on iOS  //  Download on Google Play

Why I Still Use Foursquare (And Why It's Not Just About Being Mayor Anymore)

I see it from time to time these days. I arrive at a bar or concert venue, take out my phone, and load Foursquare.  Then I see the looks. Some people even ask:

"Is that Foursquare"?


"People still use that?"

Most people I know think of Foursquare as "just that app to use to be mayor of a place". That is not the case at all anymore.  Over the years it has morphed into a useful took for tracking the places I go, finding new ones, and even remembering certain meals and drinks I had at certain places.  It is one of my favorite social discovery apps.  



When I am using Foursquare, only about half the time am I using it to check in.  The other half, I am scouting new places I might not have been to yet.  If I am in the mood to have dinner and want to try something new, I will most likely be using Foursquare over Yelp.  Why?  First, Yelp review suck.  People are friggin idiots and will give a 1 star review for the most stupid reason ever.  When I am looking for some info on an restaurant or bar, I don't want to take the advice of some tool who didn't like a place because his sandwich wasn't cut the right way.  I want to know who out of my own friends has been to a place, how many times, and what they like on the menu.  

Thats why the explore feature on Foursquare rocks and completely blows Yelp away when it comes to discovery.  It will tell me places I haven't been to and if any of my friends recommend anything there.  I can filter those results by "Best Nearby" which seems to be based on how well the place is scored by people checking in as well as if my friends have been there.  I'm sure other things factor in like  if there are deals going on at that spot, or more simply, the type of food/drink I am looking for.  I can also look through non food & drink related items such as shopping areas and sightseeing places.  Out of all the categories though, I find that the ones I peruse most are "Trending" and "Recently Opened".  You can find some GREAT spots this way.    

Recently opened spots

Recently opened spots

Trending spots

Trending spots

Even more, if I see a place that looks good that I don't want to visit today, I can easily save it to a to-do list or even create my own lists to get really specific on things I want to remember.  


Finally,  one of my favorite things about Foursquare is that is tracks where I go and how often (as long as I am checking in of course).  This is great for knowing how often you go to the gym, or in my case, yoga.  While it is pretty basic, the stats are a nice little feature that give you little factoids about where you've been and the last time you were at a similar place.  Some might not care but I find it all pretty interesting.  


Like lots of things out there, Foursquare might not be for everyone, but what most people don't know is that is has evolved a lot over the past few years.  What was once an app that primarily let you know how many times you have visited a bar or restaurant and who exactly has visited the most has become a tool where you can find new places, mark ones you want to visit later, find deals, and find out what the best cocktail on the menu might be.  It is one of my most used apps and I think that if you haven't tried it in a while, you'd be presently surprised with what you find.