Not broken, just Lite

I was using Google Maps tonight and was getting frustrated at how broken it seemed when searching for directions – it wasn’t showing me multiple routes, or route options like avoiding tolls, or giving me the ability to change the route by dragging points on the path – features that were there previously.

It turns out that it wasn’t broken, but that somehow I’d got into “Lite mode”. Clicking on the lightning bolt icon in the bottom right corner soon restored sanity to my mapping searches.


A Tale of Two City Maps

When it comes to mapping our cities, Google Maps and Apple Maps are streets apart. No map is ever perfect, and the difference between Google and Apple is starkly emphasised when it comes to correcting errors. Here’s what happens …

Google Maps

WaratahStationI notice that in getting directions for cycling from North Lambton to Wickham that the suggested route doesn’t take into account recently constructed cycle paths around Waratah Station.

  1. I report the problem to Google Maps.
  2. One minute later I receive an e-mail acknowledgement that the report has been received.
  3. Four days later I receive an e-mail saying that my report has been reviewed and accepted, and that a correction to the maps will be made.
  4. Three months later I receive an e-mail saying that the correction is now live on Google maps.

WaratahStation2Now three months is fairly glacial in the digital age, but nevertheless, it was a very straightforward matter of problem observed, problem reported, problem corrected.


Apple Maps

Img_1875Now here’s what happens with Apple Maps when you report a problem, like this non-existent section of street in North Lambton …

  1.  I report the problem to Apple Maps.
  2. Nothing.
  3. Still Nothing.
  4. Three months later I report the problem again.
  5. Nothing again.
  6. Nothing, not even an acknowledgement the report has been received.
  7. Two years later, still nothing, not even the sound of crickets chirping, a complete and utter vacuum.  Just as well for Apple that they can’t hear people scream in a vacuum.

Mark Maclean charitably suggests that Apple is engaging in a new cartographic discipline called ‘speculative topography’ – I have many other suggested names for Apple’s mapping endeavours, none of them as charitable as Mark’s.

Geographical comparison

In church at the moment we are working through John’s gospel, and a couple of times Arthur has shown us on a map Jesus’ movements around Judea and Galilee, and made the observation that the distance between Galilee and Jerusalem, is pretty similar to the distance between Newcastle and Sydney – a journey that we Novocastrians are very familiar with.  Just to see this visually, I’ve used Google Maps and a bit of cut-and-paste to put the east coast of NSW next to Israel – and the similarity in distances is indeed strikingly close.

(Click on the map to enlarge.)

Walking in Mt Royal National Park

After years of driving on the New England Highway through Singleton, and passing the sign at the turnoff to Lake St Clair and Mt Royal National park, and wondering what’s up there, yesterday I finally got to drive up there and explore a bit. We drove all the way up to the Youngsville picnic area, which was very neat and very quiet.

The information board at the picnic area shows a “Creek Walking Track” and says that it is “long” and “strenuous” and “requires a good level of fitness”. Unfortunately it didn’t give any indication of how long, either in distance or walking time.


So we set off anyway on the southern leg of the loop, with the intention of seeing how far we could get, with the fallback plan of just returning back the same track if we didn’t have enough time to do the whole loop. We didn’t make it all the way down in our allotted time, but from my GPS recording, later loaded into Google Earth, I can see that we made it about two thirds of the way down to the creek. This downhill walk was 2.25km and took 37 minutes, at quite a brisk walk. From this I would guess that the full loop walk would be about 7km and would take about 3 hours to do? One day I shall go back and see how good my estimates are.


Apple Maps #7

applemaps7I noticed today that some of the problems with Apple Maps that I reported to Apple have been corrected. Unfortunately, in some cases they’ve just replaced one error with a different error. e.g. In Canara Place, they’ve correctly added in the connection to University Drive that was missing, but added an extra connection to Sunset Boulevarde that doesn’t exist in the real world.

Update 8 Feb 2015: Two years on and they still haven’t fixed this error, even though I’ve reported it twice.

[This content was originally posted to Google+]

Nokia Maps

So Nokia has released their “HERE Maps” iPhone app to the world. How does it compare with Apple Maps and Google maps? Somewhere in the middle. Of the 6 problems I described in Apple Maps in recent posts, HERE Maps gets 4 of them right, one of them wrong (they show a non-existent river crossing at the Branch), and one half right – They don’t show “Hunter Stadium”, but at least show “International Sports Centre”

I’m still looking forward to getting a Google Maps app back on my iPhone…

[This content was originally posted to Google+]