In Defense of Apple’s Maps

We got iPhones 5 a few weeks ago now, and I have been very pleased with it. The extra screen space is nice (the key­board doesn’t cov­er every­thing up now!) and the speed is espe­cial­ly wel­come.

But my favorite fea­ture, by far, is the new Maps app.

We’ve been liv­ing in Kansas City (KS) for a lit­tle less than a year at this point. I don’t know my way around ter­ri­bly well. I had been using Nav­igon for GPS rout­ing and it was… well, awful. Hard to start (slow, obnox­ious address entry), hard to man­age (vol­ume was always set to “whis­per”, see­ing the entire route was painful­ly slow, and end­ing nav­i­ga­tion was not easy to do), and the spo­ken direc­tions were too fre­quent and annoy­ing. I nev­er used it because by the time I knew I want­ed it, I was often already dri­ving, and stop­ping for ten min­utes by the side of the road to find the address and enter it was not going to be help­ful. Although I did that once or twice.

In con­trast, Apple’s new Maps app, in com­bi­na­tion with Siri, does exact­ly what I hoped it would. Easy to find des­ti­na­tions, often just by voice request. Imme­di­ate start­up of turn-by-turn direc­tions. Clear maps, just enough voice direc­tion, easy overview, resume, and end func­tions. What­ev­er prob­lems Siri or Maps have, I don’t feel them here in KCK. I have used turn-by-turn direc­tions more in the last few weeks than I did in the pre­vi­ous two years. Heck, some­times I do it just for fun.

So, count me a fan.

Lawrence has been Street Viewed!

So, Google, pur­vey­ors of “what com­put­ers were sup­posed to do for us,” have this Google Maps fea­ture called Street View. Cars with cam­eras on top cruise around the coun­try, tak­ing pic­tures of… well, of every­thing. Then they load them up online, and when you vis­it Google Maps, you can see actu­al pic­tures of the loca­tion you’re look­ing for.

They start­ed with five cities, broad­ened that to fif­teen, now they are up to some­thing like thir­ty (Wikipedia says 35). While Kansas City got Street Viewed a lit­tle while ago, I was resigned to nev­er get­ting it in Lawrence, a town of only about 140,000, for good­ness sake.

I was wrong.

Look­ing for direc­tions to my tax attor­ney today, I dis­cov­ered that Lawrence had been Street Viewed. Appar­ent­ly Lawrence was includ­ed in the KC update this past Feb­ru­ary, though I dis­tinct­ly remem­ber look­ing for it when I heard it came to KC, but what­ev­er. Take that, Tope­ka! And it is awe­some. Scary, but awe­some. If you know where I live, you can go look at my house! (Please don’t be creepy.) The pic­ture is from last sum­mer, judg­ing from the plant­i­ngs and the rock in the dri­ve­way.

The wife, when told of this Intar­web cool­ness, gave a lit­tle bit of a shriek (okay, it was more of a polite mur­mur) and imme­di­ate­ly point­ed out what this would do for Real Estate… not that we’re look­ing mind you. And she was right.

Has your street’s pri­va­cy been invad­ed yet?