So I’ve written how Google switched to their own navigation data. I’m not sure if it’s related to this, but lately I’ve noticed Google maps likes to jump to conclusions, and for me, they’ve been wrong. It’s not uncommon that I don’t have a complete address. The beauty with Google, at least I thought, was that it didn’t really matter. I could just throw in a partial, but reasonable, address, and Google would do its magical search, and give a list of results. I thought it used to do that anyway; I swear Google maps used to give a list of suggestions.
For example, last week I went to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA. I knew it was in the desert somewhere, and didn’t have the full address, so I put in Indian Wells, CA. Google then assumed I meant the significantly further, unincorporated community between Sequoia National Forest and Edwards Air Force Base, and gave me directions based on that, rather than the much, much closer Indian Wells by Palm Springs. Thankfully we only drove the wrong way for about 5-10 miles before we realized what was happening.
Here is what you get if you search for Indian Wells, CA with Google maps on the iPhone or at google.com: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Indian+Wells,+CA&sll=33.688907,-117.832607&sspn=0.008659,0.013754&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Indian+Wells,+Kern,+California&ll=35.771029,-117.957458&spn=1.080783,1.760559&z=9. Or just try the search yourself. Today is March 21, 2010, btw, just in case this behavior becomes obsolete one day.
This is what you get when you search at bing: http://www.bing.com/maps/#JnE9eXAuSW5kaWFuK1dlbGxzJTJjK0NBJTdlc3N0LjAlN2VwZy4xJmJiPTQ5Ljk3MjM3Mjc0NjEyOCU3ZS04OC4wNjM3NTEyMjElN2UxMy41Mjg0NDQ0MTkzNjAxJTdlLTE0Ny4xMjYyNTEyMjE=. Bing nicely points out that there are two possibilities.
So now I suddenly remembered how I was unable to find another address several weeks ago. My aunt invited me to a dumpling-making party in celebration of Chinese New Years. In an email, she gave me the address as “412 Broadway, Anaheim, CA 92805.” Much, much more complete than “Indian Wells, Ca.” We never found the place however. Fast forward to today. I found a paper invite, with an even more complete version of the address. “412 EAST Broadway, Anaheim, CA 92805.” Oh, damn. Again, if you dump “412 Broadway, Anaheim, CA 92805″ in Google, it will spit out one location. Bing will point out that there are two.
I’m starting to wish Apple would decouple the iPhone from Google maps and allow the user to specify a different map app (is there a way that I don’t know of?). But the Google maps integration is so good. All your contacts show up as bookmarks in your google maps if you have addresses listed for them, and you can access their phone number straight from the maps app, too. Handy if you’re about to arrive and need to call.