Navigating Challenges: A Closer Look at Google and Apple Maps
28/11/2023
Navigating Challenges: A Closer Look at Google and Apple Maps Main Image

Did you realise that 4 out of 5 people cannot read maps? That is an increasing trend, especially as we and the next generation(s) rely on technology for all of our navigational needs.

Introduction:
In an era where digital maps have become an integral part of our daily lives, Google Maps and Apple Maps stand out as two of the most widely used navigation platforms. While both services have revolutionised the way we navigate our world, they are not without their challenges. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the common hurdles users face when relying on Google Maps and Apple Maps.

Accuracy Quandaries:
One of the primary challenges with digital maps is the accuracy of location data. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps have faced criticism for inaccuracies in mapping data. Users have reported instances where addresses were misplaced or businesses were listed incorrectly, leading to confusion and frustration.

Further, the constant 'fluctuation' of the blue dot, the increased radius, pulsating and showing how far it can be out of place, means that we can never have an exact location. This is mainly due to the Satalite infrastructure providing the signals, which was never designed for military purposes and not mass consumer navigation. The increase in satellite networks servicing specific areas and sectors across the globe is improving this accuracy; however, it has still not 'been solved'.

Traffic and real-time updates:
While both platforms provide real-time traffic updates, the accuracy of this information can vary. Users often find themselves directed into unexpected traffic jams or road closures, highlighting the need for more precise and timely data. Are the maps in people's cars up-to-date enough to cope with the changes in infrastructure?

This would mean that Google and Apple's mapping programs source the most up-to-date data, and then the vehicles would also be able to access those updates almost immediately. Many brand new cars can be updated remotely, but the majority of cars do not have this or only offer updates that are already 3-5 years old.

Limited Offline Functionality:
When venturing into areas with poor or no internet connectivity, the limitations of both Google Maps and Apple Maps become apparent. Offline functionality is available to some extent, but it often lacks the comprehensive features available in online mode. Also, every map is only a snapshot in time; depending on the environment, it could be out of date almost immediately. So anything downloaded to a mobile device to be used offline is essentially 'not up-to-date'.

Privacy Concerns:
The use of location data by mapping services has raised privacy concerns among users. Both Google and Apple have implemented measures to address these concerns, such as anonymizing data, but users remain wary of the potential misuse of their location information. Many experienced the use of 'checking in' using FourSquare; however, the novelty wore off, but not for the company behind it.

In those days, you did not have the option to choose who saw or followed your location. The ensuing years meant that they could gather data from people's mobile devices, unbeknownst to them. Now we get asked, Do you want to share your location? Always?, Only when using the app or never. At FAR, we expect the request for different types of permissions for access to your data will increase with AR, AI, and quantum computing, to name a few technologies that will have a significant effect on our daily lives.

User Interface and Experience:
The user interface of mapping applications plays a crucial role in user satisfaction. Some users find Google Maps to be cluttered with information, while others criticise Apple Maps for lacking certain features. Striking the right balance between simplicity and functionality remains a challenge for both platforms.

Integration with Third-Party Apps:
Seamless integration with third-party apps is essential for a holistic user experience. Some users encounter difficulties when trying to use Google Maps or Apple Maps within other applications, leading to a disjointed navigation experience due to the limited number of features delivered through SDK/APi in third-party applications such as Waze.

Global Variations:
Both Google and Apple Maps excel in certain regions but may fall short in others. Users in specific countries or remote areas often face limitations in terms of map details, points of interest, and even basic navigation features. After all, who decides when an area is remapped, reimaged, or to what level of detail? (Zooming in, you are restricted to certain areas where their is no detail below a certain altitude.)

Conclusion:
While Google Maps and Apple Maps have undeniably transformed the way we navigate the world, it's crucial to acknowledge and address the challenges users encounter. Whether it's inaccuracies in mapping data, privacy concerns, or limitations in offline functionality, there's room for improvement. As technology continues to advance, the expectation is that these mapping giants will rise to the occasion, delivering even more accurate, reliable, and user-friendly navigation experiences. Until then, users may need to navigate the challenges while exploring the world with these digital guides.

So why is FAR raising these issues?
Surely common sense and personal navigation is a problem easily solved. Outside of maps and satellite navigation, or following the blue dot on maps Many believe W3W (what 3 words) is the solution. But does adding 3x3 squares with 3 random words over an already placed map based upon a longitude and latitude grid really solve the problem, or does it add a new layer of complexity and increase anxiety for people who, in our experience, want the simplest solution possible? After all, surely 'less is more', could FAR be about to provide this very solution?

A final point worth considering is the effect technology is having on our 'spacial awareness' and 'spacial orientation', the judging of distances, the recall of how to get somewhere from where you currently are, and also understanding which way you should face to start that journey. All of these are experiences we now face on an almost daily basis.

For further information on how FAR can help you embrace AR, please visit www.f-ar.co or follow @FAR on socials
For further information on Google Maps, take a look here
For further information on Apple Maps, you can find it here

If you would like to find out more about the other companies mentioned in this article, please choose FourSquare, Waze, or W3W.

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