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.  

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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.  

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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. 

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 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.  

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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.  

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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

Initial Thoughts on Google Glass

Google has been making a lot of buzz in the tech news lately with Google Glass, a wearable computing device that looks like glasses with a virtual display over the eye.  They just announced an update to the UI and released a video about it this week:  

I do think this is the year of wearable computing (more on that soon) but a few initial thoughts on Glass:

  • How long does the battery last on this thing?  It seems so small I doubt it could be very long, then again bluetooth headphones do last a whil, but they aren't powering a camera along with everything els.

  • Seems like a great way to quickly pull up some info without using your hand.

  • Hands free video calling seems awesome and a great way to easily share something cool you are seeing with someone els.

  • A lot of the use of this device seems to be based on taking pictures and vide.  On a device this small I have to think the quality of pictures and video can't be that good.

  • What about people like me who wear actual glasses needed for sight most of the day. Will Glass work over my real glasses?  Doesn't look like it.

If Google handed me one of these today, you could bet your ass I would give it a try.

More info on the Google Glass website

Gmail App for iPhone

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to search for an email that was probably a year old.  I tried to use the search feature of mail app on iPhone but the search came up empty.  I knew the email had to be in my account, but for some reason it wasn't coming up.  I remembered that Google had a separate email app you can download and that if I was going to find the email, using the app made by Google would probably be the best way.  

I had tried the Gmail app when it first came out a while ago but it was horrible.  It was slow and extremely buggy and I deleted it pretty quickly.  

This time though I found it to look, and work much better.  I found the email I was looking for in seconds, and the experience was so good that I deleted my Gmail account from the built in iPhone mail app and started using the Google app exclusively for my Gmail account.  

iOS Email App

iOS Email App

Gmail Dedicated App

Gmail Dedicated App

A few reasons why this has been working out really well for me:

  • Since most of my email is done using my work account, I can keep each separate now.  This helps to navigate mailboxes easier as well as stop accidentally sending personal email from my work email address by mistake.

  • I have multiple Gmail accounts and the new app supports fast switching between them.  
  • Thank you for a new email sound!  So refreshing!!!  I really think Apple needs to come up with a few new sounds for email to freshen things up a bit.  I am getting sick of the stock email sound and the other sounds they offer aren't that great.
  • Works great in notification center.  This was a huge problem when I first tried the app.  I would get tons of notifications for just one email.  

  • The Gmail App  flat out looks and works really well.  

Gmail was already the service a LOT of people use for their email, and now Google is getting so much better at mobile software design (where Apple just isn't keeping up these days).

I'm glad I made the switch and if you haven't given it a try, I suggest downloading the Gmail app today.

Gmail app direct download link