Google Maps no good for navigation

I’d like to make the observation that Google Maps absolutely sucks as a route planner.

I’m not sure how popular this suggestion will be, but let me tell you why I think that way…

This weekend I needed to drive from Farnborough to Walthamstow, and after that on to East Croydon. I confidently expected to get to Walthamstow by driving clockwise around the M25 and heading into London on the A10 towards Enfield. Google Maps wanted to send me into London on the A40, and across on the North Circular.

  1. There’s no way of selecting particular types of road as a preference over others.
  2. There’s no way of telling Google Maps to route around / avoid areas.
  3. There’s no way of selecting average speeds, fuel costs, etc. (although this is arguably not necessary)
  4. The printouts are awful. Truly, truly terrible. It doesn’t even print out the line along which you will be travelling clearly. There’s so little control, it makes me want to weep.

Microsoft AutoRoute (I’m still on AR 2001, haven’t upgraded to MapPoint or anything newer) not only chose my expected route on the way there, but got the costs, timing, etc. virtually perfect, and also let me print out clear maps at a variety of levels of detail. I hate being indebted to Microsoft software, but in this case, it is clearly better.

Of course, if my TomTom satnav had arrived last week, as Expansys told me 3 times that it should (!!!), then I wouldn’t have been in so much agony in the first place…

Oh, I also discovered that the cross-city route from north to south London via the Blackwall Tunnel is a terrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon in May. 2 hours to travel 10 miles. Should have gone back out to the M25 and followed it round clockwise, but I decided to go with the Autoroute option…

4 thoughts on “Google Maps no good for navigation”

  1. Just don’t try the AA’s route planner. It has sent people across England via France as a faster route… (don’t have a link but it was in the papers so must be searchable)

  2. Heh. Reminds me of an earlier version of AutoRoute which did something similar – between two relatively close points in England, via Wick in Scotland, or something like that.

  3. There’s an interesting piece in this week’s Economist about them which briefly mentions their tendency to stake a claim on territory by releasing a “beta” and then either neglecting it or productising it at a glacial pace.

    I find the RAC’s route planner to be quite good, btw.

  4. I’ll have to give RAC a try the next time. I don’t think the Economist article is saying anything new – I’ve read this before. Amusingly, Flickr went gamma yesterday… someone at work was wondering how long before other sites do the same! 🙂

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