The Heuristic Method

a scrappy blog for aspiring writing

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Mapocalypse 2012

I recently went on a quick vacation down to Puerto Rico. iOS 6 had not yet been released, but because I am a fancy boy who enjoys fancy things, I had the latest and greatest installed on my iPhone 4.

Turns out, continental american cartography is the envy of the world, because the quality of all of the maps was severely degraded the moment we got off the plane in San Juan.

At first glance, Google’s maps looked like a convincing representation of a place that exists, but its usefulness began and swiftly ended with appearances. Searches yielded no useful results, addresses were incorrect, and the directions were extremely buggy, taking us off the highway for two exits only to merge back and giving distance measurements in indecipherable units like “km”.

As the webs suggest, apple maps didn’t do so well either. Niche use cases like searching for restaurants and car rental companies brought me to results in Pennsylvania as often as not.

It’s best not to think about it.


On top of it all, Apple Maps didn’t even look right:

Look at those crisp vector graphics on that coastline!


Someone should make a website about this!1

On the plus side, we had 5 bars of fast and reliable AT&T service our entire trip, even in the rainforest. Must be all that demand for excellent internet mapping solutions, pushing the technology envelope.

In conclusion, it looks like maps are kinda hard. I’m not usually the type to call for drum circles and love-ins, but it sure seems like we’d be able to accomplish a lot more if we all worked together. Google could learn about how Mi Casita is a restaurant east of Condado, and is not the “Embassy Suites”. Apple could learn how to stop pissing on everyone and tell them its rain; not that I’m angry.

Evidently, all parties could use the help.


  1. This is worth a laugh, but is also a little one sided. Google Maps was about as useless as Apple Maps in my practical applications on vacation. Maps suck sometimes.