Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012


We interrupt normal baseball card-based writing for some venting. Please feel free to leave comments.


Absolutely worthless.

I don't care about how wonderful it is to have turn-by-turn voice navigation for your car. I don't drive in Japan.

I don't care right now that I can go offline and still zoom in and out. I have unlimited data everywhere in Japan.

What I do care about is the complete lack of anything this map app can do for me.

If you live in Japan, you use transit. Does Apple Maps have transit directions? Certainly not.

If you live in Japan and speak English, you probably use Romanji characters (the English alphabet). Can Apple Maps handle Romanji mapping in Japan. Of course not!

If by some grace of God you can get the kanji/katakana (Japanese character) address, does Apple Maps give you the exact address? Why would it? Instead, here are five markers (hopefully) on the same block. Don't worry, you can just hunt for the correct building when you get there.

If you somehow end up figuring out which is the right location, can you then use Apple Maps to get you there via Tokyo's number one mode of transportation? Nope. You have to download some kind of transit app.

Here's a mind-boggling example. I bring the map up to my current location, a couple blocks from the local train station. I can tap on the train station logo and see the name in English. It says "Kita-Koshigaya Station." If I type Kita-Koshigaya Station into the search menu, it tells me "No results found." How could you possibly not find a place that's right in front you, typed in exactly the same manner that it is shown on the screen?!

Can I go back to iOS 5.1? I'm sorry, but you're screwed, says Apple.

Thankfully, I can use the (decidedly less-functional) web version of Google Maps. But that's a fucking pain.

Like most iPhone (and other smartphone) users, the mapping apps are a crucial part of my phone's features. Living in a country where I need the mapping software Google Maps provided, I feel like I'm now carrying around a brick. I don't know how I will be able to get addresses entered properly into Apple Maps to just give me an idea where to look, because the most important feature for me in Google Maps came when I was walking the streets from station to destination.

If I was Apple I'd complete an update that allowed users to revert back to Google Maps. I don't need fancy 3D or turn-by-turn maps when I can't even get to the train station 2 blocks away.

For the love of God, Apple. Make the right decision. Give me back my Google Maps.

At least Google announced it'll release its own standalone map by the end of the year.

(PS I'm cross-posting this on both of my blogs tonight.)


  1. Sorry to hear your frustration. My fellow teachers and I spent a whole prep period playing with the new map program.

    I got a kick out of checking out the tall building in their 3d map mode ;-)

  2. The 3D mapping is pretty. And for what I've heard, the general mapping information and directions in the US (especially major cities and the bay area) is pretty decent, though lacking or incorrect at times. But with no transit information, no street view, and no way of finding locations in English in Japan (Google was pretty good with that) folks who don't drive shiny BMWs down 280 will be disappointed in actual functionality.

    Sure, it should improve in time, and in a year or two maybe it'll be as good as Google Maps is today. I'm looking forward to the ability to download an entire city or country's maps (South Korea, for example, while on vacation) and navigate without cell signal use, relying on WiFi and actual GPS signals instead. I like the thought that I could access a map of one of Tokyo's cities and explore a little bit while in the subway to study my destination.

    But if it isn't up to snuff next time I buy a cellphone, I might go with an Android. I'm not an Apple groupie, after all. And I really need quality mapping data.

    PS (update of sorts): I can type in a train station's name in Japanese (Akihabara eki, for example) and it will take me there. But that does mean I have to switch keyboards, and I still don't know how to type Japanese addresses yet. I suppose I'll have to learn.

    1. Yeah I get it. I know that a lot of people are frustrated with it. So much that Apple released an apology statement.

      I guess I don't use the map application outside of messing around with the 3d settings, so I haven't experienced the frustration. But even if it did bug me, there are too many other things I like about the iPhone to keep me around.

      Lol... one of them is the fact that I'm an Apple groupie ;-)... can't help it... I've been using their products since I was a kid. Grew up in Silicon Valley.

    2. Funny thing is, I grew up in Silicon Valley, and used those green-screen computers to play Oregon Trail off 5-1/4" floppies. I remember using the school's Mac in middle school and figuring out enough to teach the librarians. And if my mom hadn't worked for HP and thus brought home an HP computer one night, I probably would have been more Mac and Apple-inclined.

      I like a lot about the iPhone, and I chose it because I really liked my iTouch (which I got as a gift). Siri doesn't do much here in Japan, but I still enjoy using it occasionally, and there are several apps that I use frequently. But unfortunately most of those would be available on an Android device (at least by functionality if not name) and the map is so important in my travels that I need something reliable and detailed. Barring catastrophe, I'll be using this iPhone for at least a couple years, so I'm not jumping ship immediately.

      My aunt and uncle are groupies too, and probably have the iPhone 5. I know they're using iOS 6 already too.

    3. Lol... good times. 5-1/4" floppies, Oregon Trail, & those awesome green screen monitors.

      My first computer was an Apple IIe... but not the ones in a beige/tan plastic case. My dad was an engineer and he ended up buying this kit that included all of the hardware. He then worked his magic and made a sweet wood casing for the computer. How many wood computers have you seen? I wonder if he treated the wood, so it wouldn't burn down the house.

      Anyways... since then I've only owned Apple computers. Ironically, my dad has always been a PC guy. The only reason he bought me the Apple IIe is because he knew Apple was going to target schools in the area.