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Review: New Google Maps boasts big improvements
Google Maps easily found eight, including that restaurant without the town’s name. I know people have complained about Apple’s maps showing landmarks at the wrong location, but Google Maps is the one that goofed: While it has the right address for the AP’s Detroit office, where I worked years ago, the pin marking its location is about a block off. Apple’s pin was much more accurate.
For people like me who live in big cities or travel a lot, the addition of public transit information is a big plus. For basic directions, Google Maps works very well. It’s able to find my apartment building in a far-flung neighborhood of the Bronx (though Google still thinks my building is about half a block north of where it actually is). It gives me a couple ways to get there on the subway and bus, along with pretty accurate travel times.
If you have a preference of subway, bus or light rail, you can filter out the other options. The app shows me the correct express bus routes from my office to my home, but fails to mention that it costs $5.50 to ride that bus, rather than the usual $2.25. It also doesn’t mention that regular monthly transit passes don’t work on those buses.
I also asked the app for light rail options as I live about a five-minute walk from a Metro-North railroad stop. But instead of sending me across town to Grand Central Terminal to catch a 25-minute train ride home, the app offers a convoluted set of instructions that involves taking an Amtrak train to the suburbs and then heading back into the city on another Metro-North train. While technically faster, the directions are far from practical (or cheap).
It’s also worth mentioning that unlike what you get with HopStop.com or the public transit agency’s website, you can’t ask for a handicapped accessible route. That means you can’t find out if the subway stop you’re traveling to has an elevator (hint: many in New York still don’t). This can cause big problems for everyone from moms with strollers to the wheelchair bound. But the bigger problem is not having the transit directions at all, as Apple’s mapping app is guilty of.
As with any mobile app, you’re at the mercy of your wireless connection. While out walking in midtown Manhattan, I lost my cellular signal several times, putting a stop to my little blue dot’s progress or sending it way off the street I was traveling down.
The one clear advantage that Apple has is style. Like Apple devices, the maps are clean and clear and have a fun, pretty element to them, especially in 3-D. But when it comes down to depth and information, Google still reigns superior and will no doubt be welcomed back by its fans.
Follow Bree Fowler on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/APBreeFowler
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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