Monday, November 27, 2006

Google Maps Makes Me Want to Scream

I think we all understand that certain free services on the web are supported by ads, and are fine with it. Right up until the ads start interfering with using the service. For example: Google Maps.

I initially loved Google Maps. The interface is much nicer than what most of the other map sites offer.

But when you search for a business address, you get crap.

Right now, I'm trying to print out a map with directions to a hotel in Dallas. We're going up there this weekend; friends are having a Christmas party, and we're staying near their home (it's a four hour drive from here). So I wanted to print the directions to put with the hotel confirmation.

Except that Google is giving me a map that has a sidebar of ads for other hotels nearby. Fine, whatever. I can make that go away. But the map has a whole series of lettered pins, none of which are on the address I want to go to. Okay, I thought, maybe if I ignore this and click directions it will behave.

Well, no. When I do that, it shortens the address to Dallas, TX (no street address) and gives me directions to get to the center of Dallas. Which I don't need - you just drive up I-45 till you're there. I want to know how to get to my hotel, at the address I just typed in, but which Google Maps won't show me because it's so busy showing me ads for other hotels I could stay at.

This is the point where I realized that Google Maps is completely nonfunctional for getting directions to a business, went to Mapquest, and had what I needed in under 90 seconds. While the map printed I cursed Google for wasting time that I could have spent more productively doing... well, anything. Staring at the wall or talking to one of the cats would have been more rewarding.

I don't mind looking at ads in exchange for using a handy web tool. I do mind when the ads pre-empt the handy web tool. Google is usually much better that this; I'm surprised at how what a crappy job they've done with Google Maps.

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