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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stop the treadmill, I want to get off

It's been a couple of months since I decided to skip iOS 6 on my everyday phone. I did it over concerns about accuracy, and because good maps is what originally moved me to the platform in the first place. I had been sent in the wrong direction too many times by the junk I had before that first iPhone.

One thing about this new Apple Maps situation is that I have actually been able to experience it without being stuck with it. I have an older phone (3GS) which is still receiving updates. I upgraded it to a beta version earlier this year because I had foolishly signed up for the iOS dev program in 2011 and still had access to such things.

As a result, I've been able to see what it looked like for a while. I've also reported several problems about things being in the wrong place. I'm talking about city parks switching names with each other, businesses which don't exist, and stores being shown in nonsensical places. I reported all of these things in my area which I could personally establish as being wrong.

Out of curiosity, I pulled that old phone out of storage this morning, powered it up, and went for a virtual stroll around their maps database. All of the broken entries are still where they've been all along. Obviously, nothing I submitted has been taken seriously and used to fix things.

If the updates I've sent for my area aren't being accepted, then chances are good that the updates other people are sending are also not being accepted. That means that we obviously have a ton of bad data as countless others have pointed out (try "Pier 39 San Francisco" for a shudder), but it's worse than that. Nobody's doing anything with these problem reports, so it's not actually improving.

Ultimately this means that if I were to use that mapping program in an area where I don't have local knowledge, it's highly likely to send me to a spot which makes no sense at all, even if my counterparts who live there have been furiously submitting corrections.

I really don't like where things are going with phones. You either buy from vendor A and get all of their cruft, or you buy from vendor G and get all of theirs. Vendor M is no better in terms of broken stuff, and vendor R probably won't even exist in a couple of years.

If there's a revival in relatively dumb phones in the near future, don't act too surprised. It might just be people who are over this constant treadmill of being forced onto garbage upgrades and who just want to disconnect from it.

How much are you willing to throw away in order to have simplicity in your life? I could probably do without most of the junk on my phone if it meant never having Apple (or anyone else) yanking the rug out from under me ever again.

It's time for these platforms to mature. Stop breaking stuff, you fools!