Apple Maps and Google Maps both failed me

I’m on my way back from a business trip and I’ve finally had one of those mapping experiences that makes you wish you were paying more attention before you got in the car.

I’ve, of course, read about the various Apple Maps fails, but hadn’t had any problems myself.  I dutifully downloaded Google Maps to my phone just in case.  I’m going to leave out the details of where I was for business reasons, so please bear with me.

Leaving a major city, we’ll call Metropolis, for a small city, we’ll call Smallville, Google Maps suggested three efficient routes, but none of them used the freeway system that is really the best option.  There is an “avoid highways” setting, etc. but no setting to prefer freeways on Google Maps.  Switching over to Apple Maps, it immediately offered up the Interstate so we turned it on and headed off.

As we approached Smallville, about two hours from Metropolis, we saw a billboard for our hotel.  Just ahead on highway 123 on the right it said.  I didn’t think I was on highway 123, so I thought this meant “take a right ahead” which confirmed what Apple Maps was telling me.  All was good.  (Turns out I was on highway 123, but it was co-labeled as highway 98, so that’s also confusing.)

We reached the point to turn and drove into town. There was the courthouse.  Looking like the right path.  But then we were still going.  Past the divey-strip club named Area 51 (note, we are not in Nevada, so also weird).  Then we’re out of town on a new highway.  Seems odd, but OK.  Then some turns.  Then as we start to get concerned there we are: being told to turn on a dirt road.  Not good.

OK.  Screw you Apple Maps I thought.  I switched over to Google.  I tripled checked the address and it said I was headed for a Super 8 instead of our Marriott, but I figured maybe they switched brands.  So off we went.  We made it back to town to the Super 8.  Still a Super 8.  At least we’re not out of town here!  We broke down and acted like people did 5 years ago and called the hotel.  We were just minutes away, on the right road and pulled in.  However, Google Maps was also clearly wrong here.  

Neither mapping system had the address in its database, even though the hotel is more than 1 year old and run by a major national chain.  When Apple Maps was presented with an address it didn’t know it just made something up and sent us to nowheresville (much smaller than smallville).  Google, I later determined, just did a search and said “ah, there’s an 8 in this address, so it must mean super 8 in smallville.”  In fact, I am convinced that Google Maps just got lucky putting us near our destination.

Next time, I’m looking more at the route before we leave. I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t trust valley companies mapping data in the midwest!