Google Maps might be one of the best navigation apps out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Having spent years relying on Google Maps to get me everywhere, using it to help me save on fuel costs and making sure I never miss the last train home, I’m aware both its advantages and its shortcomings.
So here are four improvements I’d like to see in Google Maps.
Google Maps needs to be more accurate
Google Maps is generally quite accurate. Its traffic warnings and drive times are always correct, and its routes always get me where I want to go.
That said, he can make mistakes on more minor details. On several occasions recently, I’ve found that the speed limit for a particular road shown by Maps is incorrect, being either too high or too low for certain stretches of my journey.
In addition, when navigating on foot in towns and villages, Google Maps can sometimes overlook alleys and paths that could simplify or even shorten my itinerary, overly favoring paths along main roads.
These minor issues won’t be the easiest to fix all the time – after all, Google Maps tries to keep track of data around the world – but there are ways to fix them.
Better promotion of crowdsourcing tools is one, giving users a more obvious way to offer fixes for what Google Maps is reporting. Plus, it would be great if the car navigation system could use your phone’s rear camera to detect traffic signs, updating the recommended speed limit live as you drive. Traffic Sign Recognition already appears in many cars, and adding it to Google Maps shouldn’t be too difficult.
Google Maps should expand its voice options
Google Maps voice options are sorely lacking.
When I was a kid, I remember our sat nav had access to a ton of voices of celebrities and famous people that you could choose from. You even had the option of recording your own.
Granted, those voices might creak after a while – Yoda’s navigational narration was barely 5 minutes long – but for the occasional burst of fun, I’d like to be guided by Billy Butcher from The Boys, or hear the deliciously intonation Weird by Nicolas Cage.
It should be easier to combine several modes of transport on the same route
A huge time saver when planning my routes on the web version of Google Maps would be the ability to easily create a single route using multiple modes of transport.
I live in rural UK, where public transport is far more missed than it is a hit. As such, if I want to take a bus to the local train station, it will probably take me around an hour, including the walk at each end. By contrast, I can drive there in about 20-25 minutes, depending on traffic.
On another trip, I wanted to walk to a train station or ride a bike there. Being able to combine these more eco-friendly options would help me better plan when I have to leave, so I can get there on time, without having to sprint to catch my train.
Being able to combine the different transport options from Google Maps into a single route on the main page would be a big help. There are ways around this – using multiple tabs with different sections of the route drawn, for example – but none are as simple as I’d like.
Privacy features are lacking in Google Maps
Despite many disadvantages compared to its competitor, Apple Maps attracts iPhone 13 users because of its superior privacy settings, settings that Google must emulate.
Unlike Google Maps – where all data is stored on a remote server – all of your personal Apple Maps data is stored locally on your own device so you can delete it whenever you want. Additionally, Apple Maps uses a special method called fuzzing to provide you with accurate travel data while keeping that data private.
Rather than sending a single request for your A-to-B route information, Apple Maps will include it in a data packet that also asks about travel options between other points. When the packet comes back to your iPhone, the excess information is removed so you only get the instructions you asked for, but the server doesn’t know what data you really wanted. Also, by the time your data reaches Apple’s servers, it is no longer tied to your Apple ID. So not only is it nearly impossible for Apple to remotely determine where you are, it doesn’t even know who you are.
By contrast, Google collects a lot of your data to give you travel recommendations and ask for reviews of places you’ve visited, and stores a lot of it on remote servers. For people interested in using Google Maps as a travel guide, these tools can be very useful, but if you value privacy, even Google’s incognito mode doesn’t come close to Apple’s options.
If you’re looking for things Google Maps can do, check out these 5 hidden features you might not know about.