Posted by: BigWin | March 27, 2013

How much do you trust Google maps?

While on vacation, I use my iPhone as my main source of getting directions. I think most people with a smartphone do this now. Especially when you can just ask Siri to navigate to any location and she’ll give you turn by turn directions to get there. When iOS products had Google maps as the primary map application, I never second guessed the directions I received. After the default app switched to Apple maps last year, I was doubtful at first based off all the noise in the news about it, but I have rarely had issues with it the directions and when I do, it’s usually in the last 1-200 yards (house number location is off a bit, or the wrong side of the road).

So here I am in Page, AZ and trying to get directions to Grand Canyon Village, AZ. I have studied the maps for where we were going to be traveling during spring break over and over so I am pretty familiar with the roads to begin with. I enter my destination into Apple maps and it’s exactly what I expect. On a whim, I put the same location into Google maps… just to double check… and what do the directions come back with? A proposed travel plan that takes me over an hour out of the way! This raised some alarms so I check it against Mapquest, and it shows the same thing as Apple maps… the route I had planned to take.

Why is Google maps telling me to go an hour out of the way!!! And why won’t it let me drag to the route I want to go? Damn you Google! Since I still had a day until we had to travel, I let it go and figured I would come back to it.

We had to travel down the planned route to get to Horseshoe Bend and on the way, we are presented with several detour signs and then a bigger electronic sign that says the road is closed in 18 miles. I found out later that day that the quicker route that both Apple maps and Mapquest suggested I take would not have worked due to a landslide that took place in Feb. and knocked the whole road out (http://www.azdot.gov/us89/). Google, by some black magic, had this road closure already taken into account and gave me the only directions that would have worked!

Google is so close to perfect… they just needed to provide some indication as to WHY I couldn’t take that route. There is nothing in the interface that gives you any clue. Bottom line: Google maps FTW!

Apple Maps

This should be 2 hrs… so Apple has the wrong route, but the time is for the alternative.

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Google Maps

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Responses

  1. That’s a very interesting use case!

    • Yeah, it makes me wonder how google gets the feed for things like this or if they have so much money that they hire a bunch of low paid workers to continuously update the routes.


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