What in the world is Google doing with their Maps App? As far as I can tell, one thing they are doing is making the app way too dangerous for anyone to use it while a lone driver is trying to navigate the world.
Disclaimer: As it is, Google’s Maps app is pretty awesome with tons of useful features and functions. With that said…
I am not sure if you have noticed or not, but as the maps app gets better features, it is also changing in such a way that is making it very non-user friendly. Or more specifically, more dangerous to driving users. That is, if you are using it as a guidance tool from inside your moving car.
Which by the way, Google Maps is no longer safely possible to use from within my vehicle.
My first gripe started a long time ago when Google removed the zoom in/out button (pictured above) that used to reside in the lower right corner of the map.
As a driver, that zoom button was invaluable for a safe operation of using. But now if you need to operate the map zoom function, you need two fingers. And if you need two fingers to operate the map, then you need your second hand to hold your phone. Hence, they’ve made the zoom function a two-handed process. Not to mention how sometimes when you are trying to two-finger it, something magic happens and the look angle on the map changes to an angled views instead of a “look straight down” view.
One of the most recent updates of late has made the maps feature even slightly more useless or driver dangerous to me.
Now when you start your Maps app, it starts up being super zoomed in on your location and oriented with north being up. Regardless of what state you left the app when you last used ir or shut it down in.
Again, when navigating, starting the app zoomed-in seems to make it much more useless and again, more dangerous, since you now have to use two hands to put the Maps app back to the way you need it for whatever navigation needs you are having at the moment.
I can’t help but be surprised how non-intuitive the maintenance of Google’s famous Maps app is. (At least in these regards.)
The app, to me, would seem to be something a driver can use or need for getting around places. It used to be my go-to app on a daily basis. If for nothing else, to get the automated traffic updates created by the integrated, Israel-based app, Waze.
(Is The Waze App An Intrusive App?
I love how traffic conditions are provided, as Maps suggests, by Waze users. Yet I can’t help but wonder about that statement, considering that Waze seems more automated than manual. Or that you can’t find the app on your phone to use manually. That confirms of course, many users suspicions on the intrusiveness of smartphone apps, as Waze tracks your speeds and transmit it back to who knows where, to help update your traffic conditions that you see on your Maps app.)
Yet as time goes on the phone Maps app is getting more dangerous for drivers to use, from starting up zoomed in too close and forgetting your last setting, to needing two hands to operate the smartphone app. Seriously Google?
All these developments seem to be screaming that Google is not thinking it through when they update their product. That and if we were to take many of the latest app developments as a message, it would be to stop using the app from my car.
Is it time to get some other GPS navigation tools such as TomTom, Garmin or any other navigation product? Maybe so, because Google is just making their maps product way too dangerous for any one user to operate while driving from place to place.
For me, Google Maps is is just plain stupid as far as ease of use.
Originally written 12-26-14. UPDATED 12-27-14: I had an idea and decided to uninstall the updates to my “Maps” app to see what would happen. While uninstalling the app, it asks if you want to install the “factory version” of the app. I am not sure why it asks, since you don’t have an option. Saying “no” cancels the uninstall. SO I did that, started up this base version, acknowledged the terms and conditions and moved forward with using it. I fully expect to not have as smart of an experience using the traffic route mapping process in the app, but we’ll see.
But what “devolving” the app did was at least speed it up marginally and now when I start the Maps app, it is not zoomed in to the closest quarter mile around my location.
Here’s one observation on Google Maps user statistics.