While preparing for my European trip, I was using Google maps a lot. Naturally, I wanted to save the maps I created, to return to them later. And that’s where my problems started.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Google suite of tools. They are extremely useful, usable and intuitive. I would not be able to function without Google calendar (and I totally love its easy integration with event organizing tools like Eventbrite). My business e-mail runs on Gmail. My business website is on Blogspot platform. I use Google analytics. And I am not paying a cent for all that. (I would have a hard time if Google suddenly decided to charge for all these things, I would have to pay through the nose. Just don’t tell Google, it may give them ideas.)
However, I was extremely disappointed with Google maps. They are as counter-intuitive as it gets. I was completely frustrated.
Intuitively, you expect the following sequence of operations:
1. You open a document.
2. You edit it.
3. You save it.
4. You can repeat pp. 2 and 3 as required.
Now, with Google maps it just does not work.
- Pressing “Create a new map”, instead of opening a new editable one, saves the one you currently have on the screen, with no options for editing.
- You can save a map you created, by pressing “Save to My Maps” link (which is placed very far down the frame, and you have to scroll like hell to get to it, and you’ll never find it if you don’t know it is there.
- What really got my goat was the fact that “Save to My Maps” is available only for driving instructions, but not for walking ones. I will NEVER understand that. They are both maps, right? What is so different between them that you can save one type but not the other? (Normally, that would not be a problem, but when your plan involves a lot of small European towns with lots of one-directional and pedestrian streets, and a lots of walking, it IS a problem, because driving instructions from point A to point B can be wildly different from walking instructions for the same A and B. Besides, once you saved the driving instructions map, it is impossible to switch it back to walking instructions. You have to enter all the information all over again (and there is no functionality for recently used addresses).
- On the saved maps, several routes suddenly appear (unasked) and superimpose each other. It is possible to remove them though, but I don’t understand what would I need that for, in the first place.
- The “edit” button, against expectations, does not allow you to edit the map. What you can edit with it is the map’s title and description. That’s it. If you want to open a previously saved map with a route and add one more destination, you would not be able to do that. (Of course, it is possible that I am just dumb and was unable to find a way to do that after all the hours I spent planning my trip with Google maps.)
It would be interesting to compare Google Maps with Mapquest, I should do that sometime, but I suspect Google maps will win, mainly again because of their integration with everything.