Now We Know How Apple Fans Apply Reality Distortion To The New Maps App

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Photo: Kevin Smith, Business Insider

I live in New York. I’ve been a permanent resident for more than four years now, and I’ve been visiting the city semi-regularly since age two.I know my way around. 

But like most New Yorkers, I don’t have public transit schedules memorized. If I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before (it’s a big city!) I like to look up the closest subway station or bus stop on my phone. So that’s what I did yesterday when I had a meeting in SoHo. However, since the new Apple Maps doesn’t have built-in public transit directions, I had to use one of Apple’s suggested third-party apps to find my way. In this case I used one called Embark. 

It turns out, Embark told me to get off a stop earlier than I should’ve, and I had to walk about 10 minutes to get to my meeting. Luckily, I left my office early enough to still make it on time.

I hinted at the experience yesterday in a quick post about what Steve Wozniak thinks of Apple Maps. (He doesn’t think it’s as bad as some people are making it out to be.) And then commenters and tweeters and emailers attacked me, saying I’m a fool for being a New Yorker and still needing to look up transit directions. Here’s one of my favourite comments. I cleaned it up the best I could for spelling, punctuation, and grammar:

I’m sorry, how long have you lived in New York City that you need a phone to give you directions for the subway? You’re just talking drama subway maps have not disappeared. Relevancy is important in journalism.

Incredible. It seems like Apple fans’ argument for their favourite company releasing a product that’s inferior to the one before it is, “Well, you should know better!”

But I don’t know better! And I can tell you anecdotally that a lot of my friends who have lived in New York for longer than I have still rely on their phone’s mapping app to get around. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are way smarter than me who can memorize addresses, train schedules, time tables, whatever. I can’t. I suspect most other people can’t either. That’s why Apple Maps still feels inferior to me.

Are Apple Maps all bad? Nope!

I love the Yelp integration. I love the new design. I love the 3D maps (even though I don’t see a practical use for them yet). I love how much smoother the app is before. I love a lot of it.

What I don’t love is how Apple stripped away the one thing I use Maps for the most: Public transit.

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