Maps - all maps - just aren't good enough yet

While everyone loves to beat up on Apple Maps - and not without justification - none of the existing maps apps are good enough yet. Whether it be data quality or user experience, they all still get it wrong too often to be acceptable, and that needs to change.

Apple, for all their data aggregation, cleansing, and sanitizing issues, gets a couple of things right. The interface, both pre- and post-iOS 7 is not only good looking but provides a a good amount of information about not only your next turn, but the turn after that. The voice directions also do a good job of keeping you informed over long stretches of road, and advising you to stay left or bear right so you're in the proper place for a turn sooner rather than too late. Unfortunately, while Apple Maps can often get you to the block you're going, it tends to break down when it comes to the exact place and entrance to it.

Google Maps nails the data, but almost to a fault. It's less human. It'll tell you you need to turn right without warning you to get right, or tell you to go left when there are three left options, and only get to the elaboration well after the proper one has past. (And lest you think their data is perfect, today they told me to pull a u-turn on a dead-end road when I was actually in the middle of a 4-lane highway. That only appeared after I passed the virtual dead end. On my way to Mountain View. Yeah.)

Nokia Here maps, TomTom, and everyone who licenses data from them all need to do a better job not only with that data but with presenting it in a more human way.

Well-verified, consistently presented location that doesn't just tell you where to turn and how to get some where, but makes sure you're in the right place to turn, and helps you get there.

Like far too many things, if I could somehow mash Apple and Google Maps back together, I'd get something approaching what I want - great data and great interface - but that's an option that no longer exists. For now it's a race to see who can become more like the other, better, faster.

Maps are hard, no doubt about it. But getting lost sucks. What's a reasonable level of accuracy? What's a reasonable level of experience? If you miss a turn, or get sent the wrong way, how often is too often?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.