Why I keep Google Maps in my homescreen


To celebrate the New Year, my wife had a great last-minute idea: going back to Altea — a beautiful town by the sea a hundred kilometres south of Valencia. We had a peaceful time there back in 2007, and it would have been nice to repeat the experience for a couple of days, especially after all the negativity accumulated during 2012, a really forgettable year overall.

We knew how to reach Altea by car, but we didn’t know the exact directions for the hotel she booked, which we discovered is a couple of kilometres outside the town. I wanted to give Apple Maps a try out of fairness, although I wasn’t expecting much giving how poorly they work where I live. (See this old post on The Quillink annotated — meanwhile the situation has improved a bit, but not much).

I opened Apple Maps on my iPad and entered the name of the hotel: no results. I entered the name of another hotel that is located near the one we booked. No results. So I just entered “Altea, Spain” to see the kind of detail Maps would offer. This was the result:

Altea Apple Maps

To be fair, a lot of small roads remain unnamed even in Google Maps, but at least Google Maps found every name and direction of hotels and businesses nearby. It found our hotel even before I could complete the name. And gave us precise directions, from our home to there. Even though we know how to take the motorway to exit Valencia, I said: “What the hell, let’s try the new turn-by-turn feature in Google Maps and see what happens”.

It worked perfectly. A bit of a drain for the iPhone’s battery, for sure, but it worked really well. The blue dot on the map followed our movements in real time, and directions were prompt and accurate. We arrived at the hotel without a problem. And Google Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation system saved us on our way back. There is a tricky point after you change motorways when entering the Valencia area, where it’s easy to miss the right exit because there’s always a lot of traffic and you can’t change lane at the last moment. That’s what happened, and we were a bit scared because we were low on fuel and we didn’t know where the next useful exit would be (we don’t travel outside Valencia by car that often). Google Maps immediately recalculated the route and sorted things out for us. We really felt relieved, we felt that the situation was again under control. This is how a Maps application is supposed to work, I thought.

Bottom line: I’m sure Apple Maps will get better with time, but considering how flawless the whole experience with the new Google Maps app for iOS has been, I really think Apple should start moving fast in that ‘getting better’ direction.

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!