RoadRUNNER Digital Rider

Maps Gone Wild

Sep 27, 2012 View Comments by

So the iPhone 5 was recently released and the fan boys and fan girls have been camping out again, waiting for their chance at acquiring the latest and greatest from Cupertino. By most reports, the new iPhone is another leap forward—bigger screen yet smaller overall, faster CPU and faster network, yet even better battery life, even new and improved headphones.

But wait! There’s less! Google Maps, my ever-present roadside companion, is gone. Sure, Garmin’s got lots of great maps and data, and Yelp can often be used to find a good lunch or dinner spot, but sometimes I need old reliable to help find the twisties, grab a burger, and then find my way home.

Apple says that they’ve got me covered with their new Maps app, but I’m reading some worrying reports of its inaccuracies and foibles. The satellite views are most entertaining, as once straight roads can be seen zigging and zagging across what looks like a Martian landscape. Check some of these out:

What’s a Digital Rider to do? My 2009 iPhone 3GS is on its last leg; it has trouble waking up, gets easily overwhelmed with seemingly simple tasks, and is literally falling apart in my hands. I need to check with Guinness, but it may be the oldest iPhone still in use.

I could just take a leap of faith, get the iPhone 5, and trust that Apple will fix Maps over time. I’m sure Navigon, as well as other mapping apps, will work (Click here for some alternatives). But navigating is not what I used Google Map for. For me, Google Maps was an adjunct to my Garmin—an often quicker way to locate nearby services, many times with reviews, links to websites, and the comfort of knowing I had up to date data. It was fast, efficient, no-nonsense.

And then there’s Android. Google Maps is still there—and with turn-by-turn directions, something the Apple version didn’t do well. The leading competitors to the iPhone are the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Motorola Razr. If anything, it’s fun watching these jabs at the cult of iPhone:

Watch this space as I continue to wander the smartphone desert, in search of the perfect phone for the Digital Rider…

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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.