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DuckDuckGo Expands Use of Apple Maps (spreadprivacy.com)
611 points by doener 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 278 comments

This is cool to see, and I think should be a virtuous cycle. As I understand it, maps is the kind of thing where more usage really helps make the map better, and while DDG doesn’t bring the scale of being the iphone’s default map, it should be adding a non-trivial amount of traffic.

I’ve used Apple Maps as my primary map since it came out, and I’ve only gotten a wrong location one time in literally thousands of searches, and that was years ago. It wasn’t really ready when it launched, but it has gotten consistently better over time. The UX is great, in many cases the satellite imagery is more up-to-date compared to Google, and it doesn’t maul my battery to use. Not saying it’s clearly better than Google, because it isn’t, but for my usage it’s more than “good enough,” and I love to see Apple’s privacy respecting products compete effectively with big G.

> Not saying it’s clearly better than Google

If privacy is worth something to you, it’s clearly better than Google.

I, too, use Apple as my primary map. In many cases, Apple Maps is better Google. The ones in which it’s behind are more than made up for by Apple’s values.

If privacy is worth something to you, it’s clearly better than Google.

Is it? Has everyone forgotten the Yelp tracking beacon? Good thing Apple relies on Yelp for business info and has pretty deep Yelp integration with the mobile app.

I wish DDG had the ability to also use OSM for data/map tiles and not just for direction. IMO it would help to make it grow if more people used it and contributed business data on it.

It would have been pretty interesting if Apple had integrated with OSM instead of building their own solution. Kind of a pie in the sky concept, but I still would have liked to see it.

Apple Maps does utilize and contribute to OSM data to some degree:


In DuckDuckGo's implementation at least it looks like they proxy all requests to Yelp so there is nothing Yelp gets from you in a non anon way.

Unfortunately it's incredibly difficult to become fully anonymous. Yelp can infer who you are by things like your home address (a few searches to see how far away restaurants are, for instance)

This Wikipedia article has a few examples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_re-identification

Does distance calculation even go to yelp though? That sounds like a job of the map platform.

So if DuckDuckGo proxies your requests and they are mixed in with all other requests, how would Yelp combine your searches?

Yelp in the US. In the UK it's TripAdvisor. And I imagine it could be others elsewhere too

It is. Apple Maps uses various POI info providers including Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and even more in global. Yelp has to track user data as their business model required, but nor Apple. The integration of Yelp app is made by Yelp, through the open system API by iOS, which is definitely not exclusive to Yelp.

Nice! Its awesome to see Apple use their market power to help their customers rather than exploit them. It doesn't happen often.

Lol, using their market power to help customers such as using their signing of the OS keys to force all default mapping applications to a proprietary location service that doesn't know where things are because of their own desire for power and control.

You don't ever have to install Yelp to use it within Apple Maps. The app does not come on the iPhone by default. By default it opens the Yelp website (which of course nags you to get their app and/or login, but that's not unique to Yelp).

I suspect that all the news articles reporting on this issue are probably greatly misunderstanding how technology works.

> And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address — once every five minutes. [1]

Literally any load balancer is going to know what IP address you're coming from. Having a website logging your IP address is not cause for alarm. A good mitigator for this probelm would be to disable background activity for Yelp or any other apps you feel do not need that sort of access.

The journalist also makes no attempt to explain what steps they took to attempt to change their Yelp account preferences. They did not inform us whether or not they were logged in or opted in or out of any particular preferences. That's what makes the story so unhelpful.

A more useful version of that article should be informing people to make a check on all their account preferences every time they sign up for a service. Usually, marketing and telemetry settings are on by default. I most definitely don't agree with this, but it's not unique to Yelp.

Perhaps you're also referring to a lawsuit in progress regarding the way in which Yelp transfers contacts? [2]

In this case, the arguments center around some rather nebulous contract law, in my layman's understanding of the case. Again, your OS already protects you - if you never grant an application access to your contacts, you never have to worry about the transmission of that data.

It should be smartphone 101 that allowing an application data access will allow it forever, because that's how iOS has worked since day one. Again, we need more protections in the form of laws, not just conventions, and I don't agree with the idea that data can be sent around willy nilly, but this is the reality baked in to all mobile applications. Once you give third party code access to your data in a rather explicit fashion, it's not in your control what's done with it.

So this still sounds bad, perhaps, but also, an iPhone with the default install and iCloud login is much more private than Google with a Google Account login. In Google's case, Google Maps has seen everything and can correlate it to your email content, business search activity, current location, and a host of other data especially if you use their search engine or YouTube. In Apple's case, Apple Maps just opened up yelp.com within Safari when you click on a business result (unless you explicitly install the Yelp app and give it permissions).

[1] https://www.seattletimes.com/business/while-youre-sleeping-y...

[2] https://www.courthousenews.com/data-mining-privacy-suit-agai...

You don't ever have to install Yelp to use it within Apple Maps. The app does not come on the iPhone by default. By default it opens the Yelp website (which of course nags you to get their app and/or login, but that's not unique to Yelp).

You sure about that? For me tapping on any business info takes me straight to the iOS app store.

Ah looks like you’re right on that one. I thought that it could be used with the website.

This would be due to a "universal link"; that's something that Yelp set up on their domain. It's possible that it wasn't there in the past, so you may not be misremembering at all.

> By default it opens the Yelp website (which of course nags you to get their app and/or login, but that's not unique to Yelp).

A bit of a sidenote, but the worst part is that now Yelp doesn't just nag you to get the app and/or login. It displays the nag splash page and doesn't let you see any information at all until you install the app and/or login.

Apple have shown times and times again that they wouldn't let 3rd party do shady things into their own Maps app, that's the whole reason they got rid of Google Maps. That's a baseless accusation.

Apple has taken good stances on most privacy issues, but Apple Maps is poorly run.

The main failure is not having something akin to a Google Scout, whereby iOS users could submit info about businesses and streets that lack data. Apple instead hires a ton of contractors in Austin (and now India) to manually trace roads and guess business hours based on anonymized GPS traces.

Apple lacks the scale of Google's army of unpaid Google Scouts (though they could easily fix this) and is wasting time on minutia rather than task their staff/contractors with sourcing & importing higher quality data regularly. One example would be importing county shapefiles, Apple could easily vault ahead of Google Maps if they diffed their map against each of the thousands of county maps in the USA, and they would be the only one regularly doing this (OSM does this occasionally, but not often).

They could also scrape business data from each state and use that to produce more accurate & detailed business listings than Google, among many other low hanging fruit.

This is not 100% true, if you go to an existing business listing and scroll to the bottom there's a "report an issue" option. Apple has fixed my reported issues within a few days in the past.

In another sense I'm not sure why it should matter to the end user how many interns Apple hires to do things behind the scenes. I'm imagining that Apple is well aware of these shortcomings. Not only that I wonder if operational information observations like this quickly become outdated. i.e. it's all manual and terrible until somebody gets around to automating it.

These user reports take weeks to months to get triaged, making many rather useless.

They all have that problem.

My son's school is in a kafka-ish situation with Google where their listing is wrong and cannot be changed. People cannot write reviews, and data doesn't get updated.

98/100 times, updates to Apple or Google mapping products are done in hours or days. The 2/100, forget it.

Apple Maps has a deep queue for reports about map inaccuracies, your minimum wait time is a few days 98 times out of 100. This is fixable, but it requires even more staffing than Apple already has working on Apple Maps (which is most of the people they employ in Austin and India).

>> Apple has fixed my reported issues within a few days in the past.

> These user reports take weeks to months to get triaged, making many rather useless.

My experience is closer to the "a few days" as well; they were faster than the one time I remember reporting something to Google Maps. YMMV and all that, but.

I reported an issue during the iOS 5 launch that never got fixed.

Apple's data is flat out junk in London. Garbage.

> The main failure is not having something akin to a Google Scout, whereby iOS users could submit info about businesses and streets that lack data.

They weren't able to do this while they were still reliant on third-party data, because the contracts required them to submit those changes to the third-party providers first and then once they were accepted, get them in downstream updates. This is one of the main reasons they invested in building out their own data; they'll be able to accept user-sourced fixes much more quickly.

On the other hand, Google has a growing problem with map spam precisely because they accept user submissions.

Choose your poison.

There’s an easy way for users to submit feedback/fixes to Apple maps, I used to do it all the time. The best (?) part is they’ll notify you on your device when the issue is fixed, typically in a day or two. Nowadays the only time I’ve submitted a fix is in a really small town no one goes to.

There’s an easy way for users to submit feedback/fixes to Apple maps

Which is? If I say "Hey Siri, how do I report an error with your navigation?" I get search results for how to report problems with Google Maps. And I definitely don't see any UI widgets that suggest that they're for reporting problems.

Click the information button "i" and then "Report an Issue".

Click the information button "i" and then "Report an Issue".

There is no "i" button from the navigation screen and there's no "i" button from the search results either if you want to report entirely irrelevant results.

> There is no "i" button from the navigation screen

This is likely an intentional design decision, and it sounds like a common-sense safety feature.

> there's no "i" button from the search results either if you want to report entirely irrelevant results.

You can hit the (i) after you make the problematic search.

This is likely an intentional design decision, and it sounds like a common-sense safety feature.

Great feature for walking and public transit directions. They still have interactive bits for the driving directions — I can't imagine what sort of "common sense" simply hides the report a problem thing until you dig through a few levels of mediocre UI.

Apple have shown times and times again that they wouldn't let 3rd party do shady things into their own Maps app, that's the whole reason they got rid of Google Maps. That's a baseless accusation.

You're right, if you click around in the Maps app (desktop or mobile) it takes you straight to the shady source (yelp.com).

Edit: Also this:


> You're right, if you click around in the Maps app (desktop or mobile) it takes you straight to the shady source (yelp.com).

Apple Maps doesn't use Yelp as a primary data source. It's used to add extra information (like reviews and photos) to existing points of interest, but the points of interest themselves are catalogued by Apple or their data providers. If you click around in Apple Maps a bit, you'll find that not all POIs have Yelp data.

> Edit: Also this: [a lawsuit about social features in the Yelp app]

I'm not sure how this is relevant.

I'm not sure how this is relevant.

Apple Maps steers you pretty hard towards the Yelp app if you want any business info.

> that's the whole reason they got rid of Google Maps

Is it? It was widely reported at the time (e.g., [1, 2]) that they were getting rid of Google Maps and creating Apple Maps because Google wanted to keep spoken turn-by-turn directions an Android-only feature.

[1]: https://daringfireball.net/2012/09/get_the_fainting_chair

[2]: https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-jilted-google-maps-over-verb...

I'll believe it when they're both independently audited and found to be measurably better. Apple is incredibly secretive so although they might not end up in headlines, there's no guarantee they're any better than Google.

Their business model doesn’t depend on violating your privacy. Google’s does, it’s that simple.

Their business model is only revealed to us to the extent of what we can publicly observe, but otherwise unknown to both me and you. Like parent said, Apple is very secretive. There is nothing stopping them from having their hardware business and making money from your data.

Their financials are public.

That doesn’t mean there will be a line item on the income statement labeled “evil anti-privacy stuff - 2 billion”

It’s trivial to lump things together in GAAP accounting statements.

All corporations' business models relies on maximizing profit however they can and therefore will violate your privacy. It's that simple. Google = Apple.

(Hint: your pithy statement is equally meaning free)

Interesting. Here in UK Apple maps seem to be a barren wasteland, at least up here in the north of England. Anything outside of major cities is exactly how my first Garmin satnav looked circa 2003 - lines going through absolute nothingness. And wow, don't even get me started about voice navigation - it constantly picks a wrong address, like 90% of the time. Google maps is pretty bad too(absolutely zero clue about one way streets or no left/right turns) but at least most POIs are actually there.

I was in Scotland last month, using Apple maps with a rental car, and it was not reliable. I'd look up an address and when near the destination I would get instructions like "park the car here and continue on foot" to waypoints out in the wilderness, for the Helensburgh area. That's not a huge city but it displays correctly in Apple Maps and seems like it should work until you actually try it.

I reverted to the HERE maps app for navigation which worked perfectly, but does not appear to be compatible with CarPlay yet, so I had to use a mount for the phone.

It’s the same everywhere outside California and the US in general.

It is not.

Apple Maps in Melbourne, Australia is fantastic. I find their public transport directions better, and their driving directions on-par.

It's really location dependent.

Having tried the switch recently, Apple maps is still way too incorrect for anything more than general bearing finding in many places. Even addresses in Emeryville, CA - across the street from Pixar headquarters - were off by about a half mile! And in that case, something felt off and I’m glad I checked Google Maps before walking.

Yeah, I use Apple maps a lot, but sometimes have to use google because it is still more accurate.

The only 'values' companies have is to make money. I am surprised people actually believe all those "Mission, vision, values and objectives" statements of big corporations.

I agree with this, but do not think it contradicts the parent. Apple has reasonably set themselves in a position where if they were caught violating privacy in any of the ways that [ad company] is incentivized to do, they would lose a ton of money and suffer monstrous brand damage. So I think you are both right.

As we're talking about maps here ... the only goal I have is to get to Point B. But I can choose to drive myself or take a taxi because I'm in a hurry, cycle because I want to get fit, walk along a busy road or walk through the forest because I want to relax.

Likewise there are many many ways to make money - and when you have other companies who do similar things to you, which route you choose makes you appeal to one sector of the market over another. Differentiation is where vision and values become important (although of course you need to actually turn that into action to be meaningful).

I believe in Apple taking their privacy concerns seriously where it makes them more money.

Honest question, why do you say that about privacy? My basic assumption is that all of these mega companies are the same and terrible about privacy. Surprised to hear otherwise.

Apple have made it a point of differentiation against Google and Facebook in particular.

They say that they try to do as much processing on device as possible and when data (for stuff like Maps) is submitted centrally, they anonymise the data collection - so they can learn usage information without knowing who it's from.

We don't know exactly how effective this is, as they are a secretive company, and this doesn't mean that bugs and breaches don't happen. But they make the point that, as their revenue comes from products and services, not targeted advertising, they don't need that data collection in order to grow the business.

Interesting, I wasn't (consciously) aware of that advertising...

I think personally, I don't find it believable that one of the world's largest public companies would have the discipline to forgo a revenue stream as big as advertising over the long term. If they have the data they'll eventually use it IMHO.

It's interesting to think of privacy concerns as split between concerns about sharing data with a "counterparty" company, and concerns about sharing data with a third party like an advertiser. I think I'm at least as concerned about giving data to a counter party as I am to giving it to a third party.

I never really thought about privacy conerns as beeing the concern that one's data could leave a BIGTECH company. Always thought about it as allowing one of those companies access in the first place.

Well, Apple say that they don't actually have the data in the first place.

For example, with maps, they chop your travel into pieces with no common identifiers.

So that way, they get traffic information and can understand which routes are busy or frequently used.

But, because there's no identifiers involved and it's broken into pieces before it reaches them, even if they wanted to, they can't tie that data back to you or recreate your actual journey on a particular day.

Which in turn means they can't build a picture of where you, as an individual, go.

That's a rough paraphrase of what Apple have said, anyway.

As far as revenue streams go, they make their money from hardware and increasingly subscription services. Differentiation is important - and because of their business model, they can talk about privacy in a way that their competition cannot.

Privacy is worth a lot to me, but Apple Maps does not have bicycle directions. So no, it is not clearly better than Google. I do use it for driving and walking directions though.

Try komoot for bike directions. in europe it was working incredibly well for bike commuting. I made like 60km per day.

Thank you, I'll try it out.

I'd argue "less worse" not "better". You're a fool if you think management at Apple is someone any less lacking in virtues than google.

somehow any less, not someone

Apple Maps doesn’t do bike routes which is reason enough not to use it.

Google Maps does a very nice job for bikes. If I should wish something of Google Maps it would be “I bring my bike on the train” routes, which is a very common and nice way to get around here in Denmark at least.

I'm not aware of any major mapping platform which does multimodal journeys very well yet, whoever figures it out first will probably see me switch to their app immediately.

Bonus points if they build in cost optimization, ie, "take the train 80% of the way there and then Uber for the last leg, optionally saving you 20 mins for an extra $8, or bring a bike to save 10 mins for no extra cost". I'm reading that Citymapper might do this in London, but I've not seen it in their NYC version unless I'm just being dense?

You have to go into your settings and enable CityMapper Labs, as the multimode is still in beta.

It works alright. Sometimes it works really well, but I just tested it out now for a short trip and it suggests going too many stops out of my way to get a citibike. Not sure why, as there are bikes available at closer stations.

I also don't think it supports the idea of "I have a bike". It's mostly transferring from public transport to a bike share and vice versa.

> Bonus points if they build in cost optimization, ie, "take the train 80% of the way there and then Uber for the last leg,

It does do this (or at least is doing it in my current test). If I ask for directions from home to LGA, one of the Labs options is to take the G to the 7 to Junction Blvd and then take an Uber for $10-14. An UberX from my home to LGA right now costs $24.60

Ahh, I hadn't thought to check in Labs - thanks for the tip!

Yeah, I'd really like something that can solve for "I want to drive to a train station, take a train, and then whatever form of transit can take me the last mile". It's a not-uncommon case for me and it seems both Apple and Google could both basically solve it if only the UI had a way to ask.

They would have to have live price data across multiple vendors -say uber, lyft, every train station, every bus station, city taxes, if you can bring a bike or not, etc.

Getting all that data for a single city would be impressive, let alone around the world.

Not that Google couldn't do it of course.

Transit (the app) does a pretty decent job of multimodal including public transport, bikes, and rideshare.

Bike routes with offline maps would be a nice addition as well...

OsmAnd does that :-)

Works pretty well in areas that have good OSM coverage as well, and it can intelligently follow gpx tracks. The only thing I miss about it is no Apple Watch integration.

You can have that with Here WeGo (https://wego.here.com).

Maps.me offers bike routing on offline maps.

Having biked over 2,000 km in Europe and daily commute, I have to say OSM maps are close to being very good. Once Inna while it suggests some path that's clearly not suitable for cycling, but most of the time, the route suggestion takes Euro velo, Dutch cycling routes, etc.

These routes are only as good as the data, but at least in Western Europe, the map data is quite accurate.

Google maps doesn't understand sections where I want to ride on the road instead of a nearby "bike path", this makes it unusable to me. Quite a lot of my riding is done along a road where basically a whole lane gets permanently take up by cyclists on the weekend but google maps will keep giving me directions to turn onto the bike path next to it, the path is a glorified footpath constantly covered in children and dogs.

> Apple Maps doesn’t do bike routes which is reason enough not to use it.

...if you need bike routes for daily map app use.

Since I don't, should I also not use it because of this reason?

I primarily use Apple Maps and its directions and the accuracy of roads have always been great for me. But sometimes I can't find a POI and searching for POIs can be significantly worse than Google Maps.

This is a good point. If I know an address, Apple Maps will find it accurately. If I just know a place name it doesn’t always pick the right one. Google seems better at knowing which place name I mean.

Here's the issue with this: the live-traffic component of google maps, waze, etc. is very much a network effect. You get a lot of traffic info by measuring the speeds and stalls of your users. This creates the classic chicken-and-egg problem: need users to get data; need data to get users.

> Not saying it’s clearly better than Google, because it isn’t, but for my usage it’s more than “good enough”

I’ve just started testing Apple Maps as Google Maps replacement, and the quality seems to be highly dependent on the location. Cities, densely populated areas seem fine, but I’m currently traveling somewhat rural polish areas and apple maps seems to have no distinction between solid country roads and unpaved path. If it shows up on a map, you can travel it seems to be its credo.

Apple Maps maybe works in the US, but in Europe, at least in my country, it's not even close to Google Maps.

The gap only grows in the less developed parts of the world. Apple Maps is completely worthless in Indonesia/Thailand.

Same as you - been using it for years. In Southern California, its just as good as Google Maps, and the updated version is miles ahead when it comes to actual map details. Google Maps looks spartan compared to the Apple version these days.

Also in SoCal and I've noticed Google Maps has really regressed, I've gotten a ton of "faster route available" prompts that lead to significantly slower routes when on the 405 and 10.

I was once stuck in a "Faster route available" infinite loop in GMaps near some small town outside of Houston. At an intersection, my original route was to continue straight, but the "faster route" prompt redirected me to turn right. After turning right, a "faster route" prompt redirected me to make a u-turn. After returning to the intersection, it again suggested the direction I had just come from.

On my last cross-country road trip (~1 month ago) Google maps would regularly suggest "faster routes" that were just "turn left off the state highway onto a gravel road, after 1 mile turn right onto a different gravel road, drive 3 miles parallel to the state highway and then turn right again to rejoin the highway". I was seeing these suggestions every ~20-30 miles. It was annoying enough to finally prompt me to fully adopt OSM.

Is anyone aware of a setting/workaround to use OSM in DDG instead of apple maps? I would rather provide my free labor to an open project, and I'm most likely to submit corrections when I notice them from a search.

The Google mapping properties are definitely on the decline. My theory is that they are less critical to the advertising business.

For navigation, Waze can't find a route 1/5 times for a longer trip, and Google Maps gets weirder and more hostile to use every few months. For me, they have tweaked their routing engine to be more "creative" and direct you in weird ways. Big G is too fat and happy and they need a challenge.

Apple Maps is fine now from an accuracy POV. They are more conservative about routing and Apple gives the app privileged treatment on iOS that improves the UX while driving. Now that Apple seems to be embracing letting services move beyond their platform, I think we'll see them give Google a run for their money.

Directing drivers "weird ways" may be a strategy to lower congestion. If all drivers take the same optimal route, and the route exceeds its capacity and clogs, everyone loses.

The last trip I encountered this was on a Saturday night around 11pm north of Syracuse, NY. Drove about 20 minutes in empty, industrial areas to get to a restaurant. It was one expressway exit from our hotel, 5 minutes tops. I think that the app did that to avoid a u-turn or a left turn.

Which is fine, but avoiding left turns and U-turns needs to be available as a user preference, and it (inexplicably) isn't.

Agreed, that’s why I find it a user hostile app. Amazing mapping engine, not so amazing UI.

This is what Waze does (based on anecdata between me and friends), so it would make sense for Google Maps to do, too.

Waze is much better about it, but they can't route. Try getting directions from a place like Hartford, Connecticut to Richmond, VA.

I think of Apple Maps the same way I think of North Korea's missile program: I know it exists and it has continent-level accuracy.

Last weekend I used Apple Maps to navigate to a movie theater from within the Trailers app.

Not sure which one got it wrong. We ended up in some neighborhood two miles from the theater.

I knew once we pulled off the main road and into that neighborhood that we were screwed.

Apple Maps keeps confusing California St. and California Ave. in San Francisco. One is in downtown SF and the other is in Treasure Island, a part of the city surrounded on all sides by water only accessible via the Bay Bridge.

UPDATE: I think the problem was the address for an event had the wrong zip code! So, not really an Apple Maps issue! The problem is the user...

This isn't an Apple Maps specific problem. Last weekend I opened a full address in Uber (uses Google maps) and it directed me to 13 st rather than 13 ave, about 5km away from where I wanted to be.

Several other people at my final destination reported the same problem, though they'd all caught it and fixed the destination manually.

What do you mean by "confusing"? They have different names. If you select "California St" you get California St, and if you select "California Ave" you get California Ave.

For me the issue is my own home address. I own an iphone and verified it. Typing out my direction: Address, City, State, Zip Code will direct you to an address in the neighboring city with a similar looking address(address number is wrong and Ave is Street). I give people a neighboring address close to me that I know works if they own an iphone. Apple Maps has also gotten me lost or stuck in terrible traffic. I really hate Apple Maps.

That's remarkably bizarre. Typing out a full structured address should always be parsed correctly.

Have you reported this to Apple? The Apple Maps apps (iPhone and macOS) have a means by which you can report a variety of issues, including incorrect search results. In my experience Apple tends to be pretty good about handling these.

My address also kicks off this issue in Apple Maps. I live on XYZ Street, it will send you off to XYZ Road on the other end of the city.

I never reported it as I just immediately went back to Google Maps, but I'll do that now, good suggestion.

You tap on a California St address and Maps directs you to the same address but on California Ave...

I still can't reproduce this.

I just put the two following addresses into Notes:

  23 California St, San Francisco, CA

  23 California Ave, San Francisco, CA
then tapped on both of them and Maps brought me to the correct spot each time.

That is because 94130 is the ZIP code for Treasure Island. You've got the wrong address mate!

California St is at 94104

Please don't blame Apple Maps for user error

You're searching for "California St, San Francisco, CA 94130" and Apple seems to parse this from right to left. California Ave happens to be the closest match to "California St" in ZIP code 94130 and apparently is a stronger signal than "California St, San Francisco, CA !94130 but actually 94104"

Oops, good catch!

Why am I being further downvoted after the issue was confirmed downthread as user error?

I choose to use Apple maps for navigating most places within a city. On iPhone, I think it has far superior ux design. In between cities I use google maps because I feel it is more up to date.

I choose to use Apple maps for navigating most places within a city. On iPhone, I think it has far superior ux design. In between cities I use google maps because I feel it is more up to date.

I suffer with Apple Maps because I find Google that unethical, but... the UX is atrocious. Navigation with Apple leaves the phone unresponsive (unlocking takes a few tries), but not with Google. This behavior has persisted for me across a few different phones.

The biggest thing that leads to teeth gnashing for me is that after a while my location search will time out. Great if you've got network connectivity, not so great if you're trying to go somewhere more remote (or have your phone in airplane mode, etc, etc) and the location you just searched for disappears.

My favourite google maps UX decision is asking me how good of a job google did getting me there before I arrive.

It makes the last part of journeys really interesting especially as it results in me taking my eyes off of the road trying to reinitialize navigation...

Mine is how it now randomly suggestions turns based on what businesses are nearby. Example, "Turn right at the Chipotle". So now I have too look for signs of businesses in strip malls that may or may not be prominent in order to know where to go.

What a miserable service.

Given that North Korea has been able to place satellites into sun synchronous orbit, its missile program has far better than continent-level accuracy.

The hard bit is coming back down.

I use it all the time. In Portland it is as good as GMaps is at navigating fastest route during heavy traffic. Which is to say, not perfect, but adequate. It has yet to take me to the wrong location.

Apple Maps is pretty awful in the Bay Area. My favorite recently was it's insistence that I make a left turn off of Van Ness. Left turns have largely been banned from Van Ness starting with the huge construction project, but the left turn Apple Maps was also demanding was also across a double yellow line where a left turn would've been illegal regardless of construction.

Yesterday I was trying to remember if this deli was on Howard or Folsom (and I forgot the exact name). The search results for 'deli' were basically everywhere on North America except for where I was (including across town). Searching for businesses with Apple Maps is nearly impossible, and the insistence upon installing the Yelp app to get more info is just infuriating.

Edit: Oh yeah and it can't find Grainger in Millbrae to save its life. Shit happens and business info is one of the hardest parts about mapping. Unfortunately Apple makes it damn near impossible to report problems to a real human.

Edit edit: My all time favorite though was asking Siri for directions to some club that I usually take BART to. I kept getting directions to a not that nearby and not that similarly named bail bondsman.

What is "Grainger in Millbrae?" Do you mean Grainger Industrial Supply in Burlingame? Because if you do, that's why it can't find them in Millbrae. :)

This is all anecdotal, which is kind of the issue, isn't it? I'm in the Bay Area, too, and I very rarely have any problems with Apple Maps. It isn't perfect, but it's absolutely not "pretty awful." I have no significant problems finding businesses with Apple Maps; I literally just typed "deli" and the first search suggestion that came up was "Delis - search nearby," and it, well, found delis nearby.

Problems due to long-term construction seem to be a weakness for it, but I've run into those issues with Google and Waze, too.

Sorry, yes, Burlingame. All the teeny peninsula towns tend to blend together to me, and Grainger shuttered its SF outpost. Apple Maps happily took me to the street behind the store where there is/was no entrance.

Even when I know the name I often have problems finding something in Apple Maps. Up in Marin, searching for "Apple Store" pulled up listings for the Apple Stores in the East Bay (the one in Corte Madera was significantly lower).

Or, if I'm looking for the specific address for the junk yard... for a while it would sort the results in seemingly random order. Right now it seems to at least be sorting by distance, but I think it default to heavily weighting towards what you were last looking at, which almost makes sense (but this seems to persist even if you move someplace else lending an utterly unpredictable feel to the results). This wouldn't be a huge problem but the distance is only shown for the top two results, and the city name is often truncated so chains will often be hard to distinguish from one another. Even better if I scroll up too far it backs out of the search itself and clears the search bar.

Edit: Oh yeah, and the deli was actually called a market (but I had also searched for market and only gotten results for Market Street).

>[...] Apple Maps was also demanding [I cross] a double yellow line where a left turn would've been illegal regardless of construction.

Do you perhaps mean a (solid) quad yellow line (aka a painted island)? It's legal to turn left across a double yellow into a driveway, private road, cross street etc in California (and every other state I've lived in long enough to look up the laws) per [1], specifically (d). It's _not_ legal to pass on a solid double yellow.

[1]: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySectio...

Do you perhaps mean a (solid) quad yellow line (aka a painted island)? It's legal to turn left across a double yellow into a driveway, private road, cross street etc in California (and every other state I've lived in long enough to look up the laws) per [1], specifically (d). It's _not_ legal to pass on a solid double yellow.

I'm pretty sure Van Ness only has a single set of double lines. What I remember from driver's ed is that you're allowed to turn into a driveway but that's about it. While it doesn't appear match up with the legal (or popular[1]) definitions, the DMV handbook[2] seems to indicate you're only allowed to make a U-turn or turn into a driveway on a double yellow.

That said, there are no left turn signs at every signaled intersection along Van Ness these days, and even if not there's so much traffic that a left turn from a busy state highway into a side street was just a blindingly stupid suggestion.

Today was fun. For the hell of it I fired up some walking directions. Instead of walking along the sidewalk, turning at major intersections Apple had me zig zag down an alley and then cross the next street in the middle of the block instead of at the signal.

1: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-08-10-me-4856-s...

2: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/hdbk/traffic_l...

It probably varies a lot by area, I imagine. My biggest complaint with GMaps vs Apple is that GMaps has a bizarre fascination with asking me to jog over one block from the established route just to get around three blocks of congestion, instead asking me to make a left-hand turn from a side-street with no signal onto a four lane arterial road during rush hour. Yeah, there's a reason that route doesn't have any congestion.

I've reported dozens of POI and route problems. It couldn't be simpler.

Click on POI, scroll down and select "Report an Issue" and similarly when a route is complete there is a reporting option.

I've reported dozens of POI and route problems. It couldn't be simpler.

So what happens when it's clear the route is all wrong and you don't want to follow it to its completion? And, honestly, while I remember a report problems thing at the end of a route I don't remember seeing it recently.

There's an option to report previous navigations. It breaks the route down step-by-step and lets you correct and report each one.

In addition to reporting wrong directions, you can also report the arrival entrance (ex: moving the pin into a parking lot vs. the entrance to the parking lot)

There's an option to report previous navigations. It breaks the route down step-by-step and lets you correct and report each one.

Where? If I go into the detailed list of directions nothing responds to taps and there's no "i" button, only a lonely "Done" button.

I also exclusively use it in Colorado. There are times when I'm on heavily-trafficked mountain routes where I've swapped to google maps expecting to get a better ETA estimate or detour suggestions, but I haven't seen it perform any better in those cases either. I feel like I trust GMaps more in the mountains but I haven't tested that trust lately.

Privacy reasons aside, I just despise using GMaps for its clashing app styling on iOS and seemingly heavier battery usage. Apple Maps' design feels like it gets out of your way and focuses on the things that matter.

I use Apple Maps almost exclusively (Seattle and New York), except when I'm on a bike. Google Maps remains the best I've found for navigation on a bike.

Same, in SFBA.

Isn’t there an improved Apple Maps being rolled out city by city? What’s the status of that?

I saw an Apple "street view" car in Chicago yesterday, looked to be one of the newest model Toyota Priuses. Honestly had no clue Apple was in the street level imaging space until I saw that car and started looking around the web to learn more.

It turns out, and to answer your question more directly, 2019 is apparently a pilot year for a lot of initiatives with Apple Maps. It's got my curiosity, that's for sure.



Apple's new "look around" street view competitor looks really impressive.

Rather than being a series of photo spheres and smearing between them as you move, the buildings and other objects are built out from 3D scans so that it can have accurate perspective as you move down the street.

There's still fudging for small objects like overhead powerlines, lampposts, trees, and street signs which don't get picked up in detail by LIDAR, but it looks very good:


In particular, watch how the cars, plants, and buildings slide by as you move from one spot to another.

Having all this information will also help Apple with their address locations, knowing exactly where entrances are to buildings, etc.

They'll need to work on keeping that updated in the case that the scan data goes stale, but having this in-house instead of needing to work through third party providers should allow them to close the gaps behind Google Maps significantly. In other ways (like the quality of the street imagery), they're jumping ahead.

Don't have the new maps available near me yet but I'm looking forward to it.

Apple's new "look around" street view competitor looks really impressive.

That's something that stood out immediately as it passed, their camera dome was actively spinning, at a pretty high RPM. Unsure if Google Maps cars are using similar technology, or if their imaging apparatus is still one pod with multiple cameras placed along laterally-I haven't seen one here recently.

The spinning camera was probably Lidar.

That's a pretty funny comment, but I believe so far NK has actually failed to show continent level accuracy. They've only shown Pacific Ocean accuracy. XD

Oh my God, you're so hilarious! /s

Dude, Apple Maps jokes are so 2012.

Apple Maps has improved significantly in recent years. With iOS 13, it's going to annihilate Google Maps.

Can you please not create accounts to break the site guidelines with? It eventually gets your main account banned as well.


one of the best comment this week

I don't use NK missiles, but I do use Apple Maps and they are fine.

Check out a map and figure out which direction North Korea would need to launch a missile to test it's capabilities without the missile flying over another country. Then armed with that information, the next time they launch something look up the launch site and landing site.

What you'll find is that they have two general options. From the west coast of North Korea almost straight south, threading the needle between the west coast of South Korea and the east coast of China. And from the west coast of North Korea to the north-east at the general direction of the Tsugaru Strait. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwangmy%C5%8Fngs%C5%8Fng-4#/me...

(Something else to consider is the apogee of the launch. Typically those Tsugaru Straight launches are almost straight up with apogees several thousand kilometers above earth (for reference, the ISS hangs out at around ~400km))

It sure seems to me these are indeed tests, not earnest attempts to nuke Tokyo or anything like that. If it were the later, they'd probably start off by actually aiming for Tokyo.

I live in Romania.

It depends on the country, but for search what really matters are the points of interest and Apple Maps in my country doesn't have any, whereas OSM and Google Maps are competing head to head.

Even for driving, the OSM apps available, while lower quality, are more reliable when I travel to Bulgaria for example. The penetration of Google Maps in Eastern Europe isn't great and Apple Maps isn't worth bothering with.

Anyway, I wonder why DuckDuckGo is choosing Apple Maps. It makes no sense IMO from a user experience perspective.

Remember that if you're in California or New York, those are the primary markets targeted by all tech companies, so your experience with Apple Maps is not representative of the rest of the world.

In my travels OSM fares quite well in terms of its POS database and is the only one that can compete with Google Maps in that regard.

In Germany I use OSM exclusively for navigating and it is very good. Maybe not quite on the level of Google maps concerning things like live traffic, but certainly good enough to reach your goal and then some. Love the project and would have liked to have DuckDuckGo support it instead of using proprietary data.

Google Maps has shown what can happen if you use it for anything business critical.

edit: Sadly OSM doesn't yet have services like forward adress search (might be too expensive to provide). It would enable many businesses to use it for adress comparison to clean up their own data for example. I think that could put OSM on the map so to speak.

Any tips to switching, as in which app etc?

Currently my favorite OSM-based map and navigation app on Android is this one:


Fantastic non-cluttered UI and offline maps that don't eat up my mobile data.

Currently I am using Navigator for Android. It has the option to use osm or proprietary maps (TomTom I believe). The app itself is free but serves some adds in that case. You can download maps for offline use. Not the best app, but very reliable.

If I am not mistaken OSM will only give you a database but not the map tiles. For that you need to get them from some service such as MapBox, Google or Apple. Usually these are paid by tiles and Apple is currently the cheapest.

To my knowledge, OSM don't distribute tiles in bulk themselves (i.e. there's no way of downloading an archive of all the map tiles at all scales for a country), but they DO provide a tileserver (with a usage policy), and they DO provide tooling to generate tiles from their (open) database.

See: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tile_servers and https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Creating_your_own_tiles.

I'd second this, Apple Maps is still useless in Egypt and most of Africa.

There is plenty of room for these tech companies to plow some of their profits into data sets from outside San Francisco.

As an Apple fanboy - most of Apple's things are severely gimped outside of USA/Canada/Western Europe/China.

Not a lot of localization, no voice control in different languages, maps suck, Google is well ahead of them in that regard.

> Anyway, I wonder why DuckDuckGo is choosing Apple Maps. It makes no sense IMO from a user experience perspective.

It makes sense from a privacy perspective. Both of the companies are probably aware of the fact that Apple Maps are really fucking bad at the moment. So was DDG at the beginning. It's incredibly difficult to offer a product that matches Google's when you're two decades behind. The only way to improve is to gather more data. You don't need to collect personal data in order to improve the service, just data in general.

Including Apple Maps in a privacy-first search engine gives Apple the marketing boost in their target market: relatively rich people that do have something to hide. If you use a privacy-aware search engine, and you see that search engine partnering with Apple, it's easier to believe that Apple truly is privacy aware. I still have my doubts, but they're slowly but surely diminishing.

From DDG's perspective, it gives them relevance. They're no longer just a small player in the market trying to make a name for themselves. They're big enough to be able to partner with Apple. This isn't their first collaboration neither: Safari was the first major browser that included their search engine out of the box (Firefox was the second one, about two months later).

It also makes perfect sense for them to stick together, because their ultimate goal is the same: to offer an alternative to surveillance capitalism. It still doesn't make much sense in the short run, but it makes perfect sense in the long run. The more people distrust Google/Facebook/Microsoft/Amazon, the more they're gonna look for the alternatives. DDG, Apple, and similar companies just need to be stubborn. The market will find them, not the other way around.

I use Apple devices at the moment primarily due to privacy concerns, but I don't trust Apple in the long run as it would be foolish to do so.

Apple is one of the world's biggest companies and they'll do whatever it takes for them to stay on top. This year they may be privacy friendly, but what about in 5 years from now? Google was not creepy when they started out and even now they are more trustworthy than many other companies.

True privacy oriented solutions are open solutions, projects and databases that can be forked. And the forking aspect is essential, because these online services are locking people in.

This is why OpenStreetMaps is so important, because it can be forked, whereas Apple Maps cannot be.

DuckDuckGo can't be forked either AFAIK, which is also a problem. We need an open index of the web too.

> For example, try a query such as "coffee shops" and zoom in on the map to refine your search.

There is exactly one result for "coffee shops" in San Francisco. The tech and privacy initiatives sound good, but unfortunately the data needs work to pass basic sanity checks.



Searching for "coffee shop" (singular) shows many more results. Perhaps the blog post should use that as its example.


Now imagine how bad it is outside of the SF bubble. I searched for coffee shops and the closest result to me is 7 hours drive away.

Coffee shops gets me 3 results in my city, coffee shop gets me 4 results with the closest 45 miles away. Totally useless.

I don't really understand how it's this bad when OSM data alone can get you much better results.

There are only two coffee shops in Wellington (NZ) according to DDG/AppleMaps.


Edit: searching for "cafe" gives better results but still not great


I just tried "coffee shop" and "coffee shops" near my location in eastern Pennsylvania (semi-rural) and the results are atrocious. "Supermarket" shows all the possible options so it's not all bad.

It's a fun example, imagine how garbage search in languages that have more than one case is is. :/

"coffee shop" on the other hand yields 20 results. I agree that some support for fuzzy search is needed, but there is a reasonable amount of data there.

I hate when searches parse like that. Ideally coffee shop, coffee shops, coffee, cafe, espresso, etc. should all give me the same exact results: 100% of the stores in the area that sell coffee.

I don't think there's a single piece of mapping software that doesn't suck hard in some way. It's pretty annoying how google maps shows you x number of results zoomed out, y zoomed in, and z with the map frame moved half a block to the left.

Just show me everything. Search the entire city. Flood my map. Let me do the vetting, that's what I came to maps to do anyway.

where the sets of y and z might not even overlap

This shows that they are probably not even doing stemming which shouldn't be that hard to implement and could have great benefit/cost

Weirdly, "coffee shops in san francisco" shows a lot.

I'm still so perplexed why they didn't go with OpenStreetMaps which are not only floss but also infinitely better. Apple maps are absolutely useless in my region, while osm has always been at least toretable experience wherever I went in the world. Actually OSM is often better than google maps - the only thing it really lacks is better user review ecosystem.

OSM doesn't have great APIs, you end up having to have GIS experts on your team in order to use it in your product. source:someone who tried to use OSM stuff in a IoT fleet tracking system. Even Bing maps is better than OSM

One thing thing that I love about Apple Maps is that they have the name of every river, stream, creek, and ditch if you zoom in far enough. I can't find this information in Google Maps (maybe there's a way to find it, but zooming in doesn't do it). This was exceptionally helpful on my recent trip to Corsica, where I was searching for a specific stream with a genetically significant population of native trout. Apple Maps made finding it a breeze, and even had the name of all the tributaries that flow into it, which were essentially just trickles.

I subscribe to OnX Maps for most of my fishing and hunting research in the United States, but Apple Maps is a pretty great free option.

I noticed that too. I like osmand (openstreetmap) for the same reason. It's like google maps decided to practice more minimalism than apple did.

Very recently Qwant launched their Maps beta that is based on OpenStreetMaps. Discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20304720

Sidenote: I use duckduckgo for Safari search. I saw an ad on twitter for something that I searched in a private window of Safari. Not sure whose fault that is, but it really disturbed me.

Interesting, but certainly not usable yet.

My "shorthand" address missed my house by about 5 miles, and the precise mailing address (like I'd use on an envelope) brought up a steakhouse about 8 miles away. My company name dropped me in Saudi Arabia, and the exact address dropped me in New York (I'm in Minnesota).

It's the same issue I have with Open Street Maps, if you're not in SF/NYC/Chi they're damn near useless. OSM at least gets me to the correct block, although it's still off by about 500 feet.

Edit: Oh boy, this is like Cuil again. Grand Canyon brings up a mall in Israel, Burj Khalifa is somehow underwater, Eifel Tower brings up Las Vegas, Roman Colosseum some residential street in Houston. Statue of Liberty and Taj Mahal are the only two landmarks I tried it got correct. I get it's a "beta", but ouch. If you can't get addresses or major landmarks correct this shouldn't even be public facing yet.

> It's the same issue I have with Open Street Maps, if you're not in SF/NYC/Chi they're damn near useless

OSM long-time mapper here. SF and NYC are not our strong points. Europe is our strong point.

I think for the Americans, contributing data feels too much like work which would violate their idea of letting the free market do its thing. Where would the world go if people just did things for free? Same as with self check-outs, you ain't gonna do that work yourself if you're not getting a discount!

To be fair, contributing to OSM is more work in America. You have to drive every where and you technically aren't allowed to use other maps as a source (I don't know if that's ever followed though)

There are ways to track besides the search engine. The website you landed on might have done it. Not saying it wasn't ddg, but that there are many possibilities (and what I think is a major part of the problem)

Yup. Standard retargeting is BY FAR the most likely explanation for most cases of this sort.

Twitter does provide a "why am I seeing this ad" option for each ad it displays. Maybe that'll give you some clues?

Not ddg, probably whatever website you landed on.

Imo there's no point in dealing with ddg on an iphone if you can't even install adblockers.

Why support proprietary Apple Maps instead of Open Street Map? Is the data a lot more precise? Is the viewer smoother?

Is it just another step towards aligning with Apple for an eventual buyout/search engine standard?

That said: If privacy is the only concern Apple seems to be a pretty good ally, as the only major player with a significant interest in it.

> Is the data a lot more precise?

Perhaps in Apple's own backyard. In the Netherlands it's laughably bad. Cycle tracks? Mostly missing (in a country that has a huge cycling infrastructure). The map doesn't even have building outlines.

Google Maps is slightly better, but mostly because of the more extensive mapping of points-of-interest; because business owners add their own information with an almost religious zeal.

Bing interestingly enough uses OpenStreetMap (and properly attributes its usage) to gain access to the municipally contributed building outlines OpenStreetMap can use due to its permissive licence. The roads are their own though, and they are quite inaccurate at the lower end of the road hierarchy.

OpenStreetMap is probably the most complete map here in the Netherlands (disclaimer: I contribute to OpenStreetMap).

DuckDuckGo using Apple Maps instead of OpenStreetMap is a really weird choice for many countries, but perhaps it works better in the US?

Perhaps in Apple's own backyard. In the Netherlands it's laughably bad. Cycle tracks? Mostly missing (in a country that has a huge cycling infrastructure). The map doesn't even have building outlines.

Apple uses Tom Tom data. We never had serious problems with car navigation in Germany where we lived before and in The Netherlands.

Bike navigation is indeed bad, but it is also bad with Google Maps once you cycle in nature (outside cities). Then nothing beats a good Garmin GPS with paid maps (e.g. Topo Germany Pro and Topo Benelux), which do not only contain smaller cycling roads, unpaved roads, etc. but typically also contain paths recommended by national cycling associations (ActiveRouting). Unfortunately, it seems they are not updating maps frequently anymore, I guess it's a small market. I hope that OpenStreetMap continues to pick up the slack.

Apple uses Tom Tom data. We never had serious problems with car navigation in Germany where we lived before and in The Netherlands.

The car navigation in Germany was fine with Apple Maps for me (although I only used it for one trip), but the public transit info was mostly missing.

Apple uses a variety of providers in addition to TomTom, which they list here: https://gspe21-ssl.ls.apple.com/html/attribution.html

Data is just frequently different between different mapping services. I was in Seoul recently and Google maps refused to do walking directions. Apple maps did walking directions just fine, but refused to do public transport routing. In the end I just had to swap between them throughout the day.

Open Street Map is not remotely usable in many parts of the country. Picking largely at random:

South Minneapolis is pretty much unpopulated other than parks/schools/churches: https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=14/44.9256/-93.2303

Same in a good chunk of Memphis: https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=14/35.1364/-89.9691

and some major suburbs of Atlanta: https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=14/33.7077/-84.2708

It appears to be a usability/functionality tradeoff. Apple Maps isn't perfect in privacy nor accuracy/completeness, but OSM is useless for many people.

Please pick truly at random, not three places in the USA.

I once picked 100 random coordinates on land (by picking random coordinates and filtering out those that landed in water). OSM is by far the best. It's not even a competition. I still have to do a writeup of that some day, posting just the stats and methodology (scientific paper style) won't interest most people, and I forgot to capture screenshots, so I basically have to redo it completely.

It's almost certainly different if you select random points biased by population centres, but at least know that "not remotely usable" is a very local issue (see the sibling comments about the Netherlands) and that it depends on your use case.

Where “the country” is the US, of course. This doesn’t hold true in Europe at all.

AFAIK, OSM is not happy when you use their tile servers for large commercial projects like DDG[0], so DDG would have to run, maintain and update that whole infrastructure themselves. For a service of their size it would probably require at least a dedicated engineer.

With Apple Maps, they just have to include some JavaScript and Apple deals with all of that.

[0] https://operations.osmfoundation.org/policies/tiles/

It's a shame they didn't invest in OpenStreetMap.

Their values would align significantly, and OpenStreetMap has excellent road and path coverage in my experience (though struggles with Points of Interest).

They do invest in improving the project https://github.com/osmlab/appledata/

My first instinct is that it's a money thing -- kind of like how Yelp results show up in DDG now which I only recently noticed. DDG is taking a page out of Mozilla's book and getting as many corporate partnerships as they can.

Same here, hopefully it's not a pre-acquirement move and instead be more aligned in the future like you said.

Not sure if it's a lot to ask, but I'll consider it a killer app if DDG can let user opt which map source to choose from? e.g. Some may prefer Google, and some may prefer openstreetmap?

Just a thought.

They at least let you choose which one to use for directions. Apple Maps is the default as far as I can tell, but if you go to the settings page on DDG [1] and scroll down to Directions Source, you can change to Bing, Google, HERE, and OpenStreetMap. However, this only affects what it directs you to when you click "Get Directions" and you can't change the actual map source that's embedded or used for location results, although I believe they used to let you change that. It's a bummer that it was changed and that their Help page still refers to that feature [2].

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/settings

[2] https://help.duckduckgo.com/duckduckgo-help-pages/features/m...

They can't use Google Maps, because Google's Terms of Service for Maps explicitly prohibits using them alongside other map data providers:

> (e) No Use With Non-Google Maps. Customer will not use the Google Maps Core Services in a Customer Application that contains a non-Google map. For example, Customer will not (i) display Places listings on a non-Google map, or (ii) display Street View imagery and non-Google maps in the same Customer Application.

-- https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/terms/

As far as OSM goes, Apple Maps is based heavily on OSM data. (I've submitted corrections to OSM and seen the changes propagate to Apple Maps.) So I don't see much point in supporting two different services which are that closely related.

Just to add on Apple using OSM, Apple actually uses a mixture of its own data, OSM, TomTom, and other geodata brokers. However from what I understand, Apple maps uses the others as a fallback when its own data doesn't cover a specific area (TomTom more than the others) and as Apple has been building up its own data, it will use the other sources less and less. Building up their own data has been a relatively recent endeavor though and it will probably take awhile before those other sources are rarely relied upon or dropped altogether.

Apple does make some contributions back to OSM though for submitted corrections in areas that use OSM as a fallback, IIRC. Apple Maps unfortunately doesn't do a great job of mixing those results though and only uses them as "fallbacks". It's why some areas have poorer quality even compared to OSM (such as Germany mentioned in another comment) because they're strictly using their own data instead of using OSM, et al. to fill in the gaps.

Pretty sure you can forget about DDG supporting Google. The whole point of DDG is privacy. Not sure how they could use Google and still keep your location information private?

They do have the !g option in their search though. If you aren't happy with the results, append your string with !g and it will send you to google results. You do lose the privacy layer though.

From a purely privacy standpoint this isn't much different.

There are a ton of other bang options here:


If you want Google Maps then you can use !gmap.

I was under the impression that a !g search was somehow anonymized. Was that just wishful thinking?

It's just a redirect, unfortunately. It simply formats your search to a Google URL query string and redirects you there meaning that it's the same thing as typing it into Google and hitting search. Startpage would be the better option since it uses Google's search anonymously as DDG does for Bing/Oath. You can use !s for Startpage instead of !g for Google. Same results (minus personalized results) as Google, but with the privacy you're looking for.

It surprises me how many people think this. I'm not sure where it comes from. All it does is redirect you to Google.

So `!g hello world` just redirects to `https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=hello%20world`

I'm can't see how that could possibly be more anonymized then just going to google.com yourself.

> I'm not sure where it comes from

I guess because it makes zero sense the way it is. What's the point? Might as well have gone to Google directly. And what DDG user would ever want to be redirected to Google? They're using DDG for a reason (and for 99%, it isn't the search engine quality). It just makes no sense.

> I'm [sic] can't see how that could possibly be more anonymized then [sic] just going to google.com yourself.

DDG could proxy the traffic the way startpage does.

> I guess because it makes zero sense the way it is. What's the point?

There are over 10.000 different bang shortcuts. They’re very valuable for several reasons, especially if you make DDG your default search engine. “Denmark !w” will take you to Denmark’s Wikipedia page, saving you the time and bandwidth it would take to click on the link through the DDG/Google result. Similarly, you can search “hello !gtda”; and sure, for short translation queries then you could also just type “hello danish” in Google, but try doing that with an entire paragraph. You could also search “duckduckgo !gandi” to see available duckduckgo domains on Gandi (or whichever domain registrar you prefer).

> And what DDG user would ever want to be redirected to Google? They're using DDG for a reason (and for 99%, it isn't the search engine quality). It just makes no sense.

DDG users aren’t (or at least they shouldn’t) append !g to all their searches.. it should only be used as a last resort (and even then they should still be using !s instead of !g). DDG’s primary selling point is privacy, but even if they were just as evil as Google (and there were no other privacy-friendly alternative available) then I’d still be using DDG as my default search engine thanks to the bang shortcuts.

> DDG could proxy the traffic the way startpage does.

That would defeat the purpose of the bang shortcuts, which is to take you to the search results on other sites. Besides, they already offer this through !s.

To directly answer your question, !g _used_ to take you to encrypted.google.com, but Google eliminated it and now it takes you to the general search results page.

Use !s for Startpage instead; it proxies google's results.

Definitely wishful thinking, use !s instead.

The bang shortcuts just take you to the other websites.. sure, you gain a few things, like Google not knowing what you typed to arrive at the final search, typing speed, etc. but DDG can’t really do anything to protect your privacy once you’ve ended up at google.com.

Not from my reading of the site I linked:

Remember, though, because your search is actually taking place on that other site, you are subject to that site’s policies, including its data collection practices.

It's possible the strip some information in the transfer but not everything?

I had the same expectation of them proxying my query. Imagine my surprise when I first tried that oft-mentioned feature and landed on the great tracker.

DDG already "supports" google via !g searches

Which are explicitly required to be non-private.

Users know this and are cautioned, explicitly against using it for that very reason.

Now if you don't care that google knows your information, then yeah, just use google maps. But a user must be at DDG for some reason right? And that reason is as likely to be privacy as it is not. So if you're at DDG for privacy, why ask for all google information?

"Remember, though, because your search is actually taking place on that other site, you are subject to that site’s policies, including its data collection practices."

A better alternative would be !s which redirects your search through Startpage.

They could do what startpage does and cache google results; if something isn't cached, do a pass-through so Google does still get the search but doesn't get the user's specific information

No, you don't get to choose. You have to be privacy first which narrows it down to DDG and Apple. Deal with it.

It already has this. It's in search settings.

Nope, that is just the 'Directions Source'. So basically the button below an embedded map to let you calculate the route to the destination.

I don't know which language you use, but at least the German translation is kinda wrong since it is called 'Kartensystem' which you could translate as 'Karten = Maps' and 'System = System' and it certainly is not the general map system you select, but just the one being used for calculating routes/directions. Sadly :-/

I was a big defender of Apple Maps, largely because I almost never saw any problems with the data. Then I moved into an apartment complex in which Apple had the driveway in the wrong place.

I've moved since, so I'll spell it out: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=5940+Arapaho+Rd%2C+75248&t=osx&ia=...

Apple Maps believes that the driveways are to the south and east, but in fact the front driveway--the main entrance--is to the north, and there is no direct passage from the east. So every set of directions to or from those apartments begins or ends incorrectly. When leaving, I just have to guess whether I should turn east on Arapaho to catch up to where Maps thinks I should have ended up on Preston to start out, or whether it will send me west on Arapaho once it realizes I'm already most of a block in that direction from Preston. It added a minute or two to every trip, and delivery people would fail to find my apartment unless I specifically said "don't use Apple Maps." So I started saying that to everyone, all the time.

Apple's commitment to privacy means that they deliberately don't track the beginning or ending of any trip, but that's precisely the bits they needed to track to see that their routing was completely and totally wrong. So the problem will apparently never be fixed, at least until an Apple employee happens to want to visit a friend who lives in the Enclave at Prestonwood and realizes they can't get there.

So I've switched to Google Maps, and I loathe the lack of privacy, but I love the sharing option, so I guess I'm staying, even though I live elsewhere now.

I just checked OpenStreetMaps, and it gets the navigation right[0], so that issue is solely Apple's. That said, there's still a visual indication on OSM of a driveway to Preston Rd that does not exist in life.

[0] To test, I navigated from 'Renner Frankford Library Branch, 6400, Frankford Road, Dallas, Collin County, Texas, 75252, USA' to '5940, Arapaho Road, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, 75248, USA' at https://www.openstreetmap.org/directions

> So the problem will apparently never be fixed, at least until an Apple employee happens to want to visit a friend who lives in the Enclave at Prestonwood and realizes they can't get there.

Or you can report the issue yourself in-app?

I haven't figured out how, but since I've gone to the trouble to complain in public, I should dig in and see if I can.

I don't think there is much difference regarding privacy between apple maps and Google maps. What exactly do you loathe?

This is very untrue. Google knows where I live and work; Apple does not. Google tracks a "timeline" of everywhere I have been; Apple does not.

How so? Google only knows them if you want it to know. Totally under your control.

Convenience and privacy are on a spectrum. More of one means less of the other.

Tangentially, I noticed that when I start typing a word in my Chrome URL input field, it started to privilege Google searches instead of websites I normally visit.

It is very annoying to type "n <enter>" and it goes on to search any query starting with "n" that I happened to have searched in the past instead of going to HN as it was the case for the last several years.

It is happening now with all my usual "shortcuts".

Chrome now is less a browser and more a Google widget.

I wonder if I change the default search engine to DuckDuckGo it would still be the case.

This is a chrome flag you can toggle: omnibox-drive-suggestions

Alternatively, use Firefox.

Firefox is slightly better in this regard but it still searches when what you typed isn't a prefix match for something in your history,bookmarks,whatever.

It's extremely annoying behavior and the go-to add-on "Enter Selects" that fixes doesn't work with WebExtensions.


Does preferences->search->provide search suggestions=(unchecked) not do what you want?

I just tried, it didn't really change it.

How to reproduce the problem:

* Create a bookmark for "Hacker News" as news.ycombinator.com.

* In the omnibar type "Hacker New" and see that "Search with Google" is selected and that second suggestion is the bookmark.

I would like these to be reversed and the top bookmark/history/whatever item is selected over search.

Also in Firefox you can opt to have an entirely separate search box and address box.....it's somewhere in appearance settings.

Hamburger menu -> customise -> drag the search box onto the toolbar. Cmd + k (on mac at least) will focus it ready for your search.

I have a separate search and address box! It doesn't change the behavior.

If you have a bookmark "Hello World!" pointing to "example.com" and type "Hello" the selected option will be "Search with Google" and not the top bookmark entry.

I remember when that used to be the default and then Chrome came along with the omnibox and changed the game.

Firefox (at least for me) does the same thing and pushes search results before websites. I have to arrow or tab down 4-5 selections before I get to the first website result in the url/search bar.

Options->Search->untick "Show search suggestions ahead of browsing history in address bar results"

Not sure why you were immediately downvoted. This is absolutely correct. Firefox only prioritizes websites over search when what you typed in the omnibar is an exact prefix match for a site.

Take a bookmark for mail.mycompany.com bookmarked as "Email" -- if you type "mai..." it will complete but if you type "emai..." it will search.

I avoid Chrome on all but specific work use-cases. Have noticed a big improvement in battery usage while it's not running.

I thought people complaining in the comments were just being critical, but I clicked the “coffee shops” example search in the post - I’m in Hong Kong - and it showed me only 2 results:

One coffee shop in Hong Kong and one on the other side of the Pearl River Delta in Macau. That’s pretty bad. Screenshot here: https://twitter.com/larrysalibra/status/1151182624108318720?...

That looks more like it has to do with query detection than the lack of results. It clearly didn’t understand the Hong Kong part, which is the main issue.

are people using apple maps completely different than google maps? 90% of the time I use map for searching places, shops etc. If apple maps is not excelling at that, why do people use it?

I use it for transit times to a handful of places in the Bay Area I regularly visit, and it works well for that. One glaring search problem I have though is for a contact, it will only show the result for the first two letters of the name and then when I continue typing it shows anything that’s not the contact’s address. This is even despite getting directions to the contact several times.

I have yet to have an enjoyable experience with any maps app looking for places. That experience always seems frustrating to me and no fun at all.

I mostly use maps for finding routes.

I think it’s important that people differentiate between what they are using maps for, since finding places and orienting oneself are very different use cases.

Google maps recently made nice improvements when search history is turned off. It used to nag constantly to turn search history on and now it no longer does that and saves searches on my device with a clear setting to turn it off.

The ability to limit the duration of search history is another nice feature.

I feel less inclined to use Apple maps these days.

In my region (Germany) Apple Maps are not very helpful, compared to Openstreetmap they are incomplete and/or years back. I absoluty can't see why they chose to use them.

Probably comes down to API access and/or pricing. Privacy focused mapping services are quite rare. I'd do the same in their place.

I see this as an ill-informed decision, from a viewpoint of someone living in a big western city. Results are so error-prone, it's basically useless in 99% of the locations in the world. Even Google has so much wrong information gathered from out-of-date websites and public registers. Even in central Berlin.

How do the results compare to openstreetmaps?

For those interested in the differences between the maps providers, Justin OBeirne has a set of absolutely wonderful blog posts on them. I look forward to the next one.


About a year ago Apple maps helped me find the entrance to an airport when Google maps was absolutely insisting the only entrance was something extremely wrong. Outside of waving someone down on a motorway to get directions (yes I was really dumb and walked alongside a major road to an airport, had a lot of free time...) or paying an absolute ton to get a taxi to find me and take me to the correct entrance I was probably going to miss my flight home if I didn't think to try Apple maps.

Anyways, it was a really good lesson in the value of checking multiple sources of truth, which gets harder and harder to remember as Google penetrate further into our lives.

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