Incompletely useless
by Doc Searls Monday, April 3, 2017

I don't just like Google Maps on my phone. I depend on it, almost utterly, for all kinds of useful travel information: what combination of busses and subways to take, where the traffic is bad and how to route around it, where the good coffee shops are in the vicinity of some appointment I just arrived at a half hour early. The list goes on, and is infinitely long.

It's nice, I guess, that Google Maps is integrated with other stuff on other devices, sort of. But boy, the labor sometimes required to make things work together can start at annoying and end up at aversive, pretty darn fast.

Take for example a few minutes ago, when I looked at Google Maps in the Chrome browser on my laptop, to see about how far away my next appointment is from where I am now, in London.

First, after finding directions, Google Maps asked me if I wanted the directions I just found sent to my phone. I said yes. Then it told me I had to open the Google app on my phone and say yes to a prompt. So I opened my Google app (which I almost never use), rather than my Google Maps app (which would seem to make sense). After a long time passed (about a minute or so), the prompt came up. After I said yes to the prompt, it took me to the front page of the app, which looks like the Google News app, but isn't. The app then gave me three pieces of Trump clickbait and an ad that said "Get the AOL app."  Meanwhile the directions on the Google Map on my laptop disappeared. I find nothing in my Google Maps app, so I have to enter the destination over again there.

So I go to the calendar on my iPhone. While the address is there, I can't copy it. If clicking on it actually worked, I know Apple would open its own Maps app, which I wish were as good as Google Maps, but still sucks (after how many years?). So I have to memorize the address, enter it in Google Maps and take it from there. Which I just did.

None of this is terrible. In fact some of it is freaking miraculous. But it's still a pain in the ass, value-co-subtract for Google and Apple, and yet another lesson in why we need integration to happen at the individual level, outside of anybody's silo.