Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps

Oh, dear. How could Apple get it so wrong? The problems with Apple’s new Maps app just won’t go away. In fact they seem to just go from bad to worse. Just today, Australian police have warned travellers using the Apple Maps app to be very careful about relying on the app to get them safely across this vast, and often unforgiving country.

This latest warning came after a number of travellers got totally lost on cross-country road trips due to the poor directions provided by the Apple Maps application.

A case in point: anyone travelling to the regional Victorian city of Mildura could end up miles from their destination if they use Apple Maps, as the screenshot below indicates. For both this, and the following Google Maps image, I sought directions from my home in Adelaide to Mildura.

Click to view full size
Mildura is shown here as being located somewhere in the middle of either an unnamed National Park, or in the Pink Lakes Conservation Reserve. It isn’t. As it happens, Route 3 in the image above is at least heading in the right direction (for most of the way), as can be seen in this next Google Maps screenshot.

Click to view full size
As can be seen, Apple Maps puts unsuspecting travellers smack dab in the middle of the now correctly named, Murray Sunset National Park. Google Maps also provide a lot more information including numerous highways, the names of country towns, and physical features in the landscape. Of course, as one zooms in to Google Maps, more and more useful information is revealed.

Hopefully, in the above example, people getting lost using the Apple Maps app should be able to find their way out of the National Park without too much trouble – providing other problems (lack of fuel, vehicle breakdown, etc) doesn’t stop them in their tracks. But as I’ve already said, Australia is a vast country, and the landscape, climate, and other factors have combined to trap unsuspecting visitors and locals on isolated roads, bush tracks, and even highways far from help, often leading to the death of more than one lost traveller.

The message the police issued today was clear –travellers embarking on long road trips this summer, should not rely only on the Apple Maps application. They should use a good highway map or atlas, and pay attention to highway signage.

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