Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Google Maps Navigation failed me again

As an Android G1 mobile phone user and a fan of Google products and services, I was really excited when the GPS killer app Google Maps Navigation was ported to Android 1.6. But I don’t usually drive to a lot of new places that I have no idea how to get to, even when I do I will do my homework on desktop first, which leaves Google Maps Navigation on my Android phone very few chances to prove its value. But the only time I was trying to rely on it to help me out, it failed. That was about one month ago, I am on my way to metro station in Riverside to pick up my wife after work. Due to the heavy traffic on CA-91 I decided to switch to the station right after the original one (Riverside-La Sierra station), which as I recall later was the first time Google Maps Navigation on my G1 phone coming to rescue in a real situation rather than a fake drill. It actually did a very good job for the most part, which I even see the metro station I was looking for (the red place marker). But amazing thing happened when I passed by the destination (I should have followed the green dash line). First Google Maps Navigation didn’t tell me that I had arrived (I had a second thought that I should just turn into the parking lot, but I hesitated because Google never failed me before), instead it told me to get onto the highway that I just got off again in other direction (the solid green line). I followed although with a little doubt (still believe Google was right) but was totally pissed off after a few seconds when right in the middle of the ramp (where the red cross is) it said that I’ve arrived.

I followed the solid green line which Google Maps Navigation told me to, but the red cross is the place where it said that I’ve arrived.


Today the fancy free Google Maps Navigation failed me again. I was looking for Bed Bath & Beyond in Mira Loma, CA, which seems to be pretty new because my 3-year old Magellan GPS wasn’t able to find it at all. Searching in Google Maps Navigation (by typing “Bed Bath and Beyond” and click search) gave me a matching Bed Bath & Beyond in Mira Loma, which has the accurate telephone number and address. But obviously it put the spin at a wrong place which is about half mile north west of the actual location in a lake. Using the same searching pattern in Google Maps generates the same error, but if you type the result address back in both Google Maps and Navigation points to the right place.

Bed Bath & Beyond in Swan Lake


The red place marker is where Google Maps Navigation directed me to, while the green spin is the correct place:


Another thing I notice is that the streets around wrong Bed Bath & Beyond location in Google Maps hasn’t been updated at all, or at least not recent enough to reflect current name. An example is that the “Peachtree Dr” in red circle doesn’t exist any more. Looking at OpenStreetMap for the same area gives me the accurate result as below:


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