Why I Dislike Apple Maps and Texas Roads


Although Google maps has its vagaries as well, I really dislike Apple maps, particularly when dealing with Texas roads. On Friday I had a meeting in San Antonio.  I don’t know San Antonio all that well – I lived for a matter of months in a subdivision on the north-east side, but was more concerned with my ex-mother-in-law’s mental health and financial idiocy than checking out the town, and I worked for a while on the north-west side, but since I was commuting from Austin I went to that company and straight back home, it was a long commute already without hanging around to get to know the place.  

San Antonio’s major roads are like an oddly shaped spoked wheel.  The ‘wheel’ consists of two loops, inner and outer (which actually are fairly circular, unlike the ‘loops’ in Austin that go perfectly straight and end at completely different sides of the city – what other people call ‘straight roads’).  The ‘spokes’ consist, in the main, of three roads: IH35 comes south from Austin and goes south through the inner part of the eastern side.  So it crosses each loop twide.  IH10 comes in on the north west side if you’re travelling south east, or the inverse if you’re travelling the other way, another of those ‘straight road’ things.  It also crosses both loops and crosses IH 35, the latter on the south east side.  

Where I had to go was, at least by the interpretation I can ascribe to Apple maps, on the north-west side of the inner loop.  Fine.  Of course that gives plenty of options to get there, depending on what road you come into San Antonio on.  As it happens, although the address sounds like a big road, North West Military Highway, it isn’t.  The bigger road it meets up with on the north side happens to be the corner of nwmh that I wanted to get to.  That road is a long city road called Wurzbach, which runs from the north west to the north east between the outer and inner loops.  

In trying to avoid delays due to an issue on the 35, I decided rather than sit in traffic for a couple of hours, I would splurge and take the toll road, which had been announced a couple of years ago “now goes all the way from Waco, about two hours north of Austin, to San Antonio, about 90 minutes south.  Unbeknownst to me “to San Antonio” is Texas-speak for “to the IH10 about half way between San Antonio and Houston”, Houston being a couple of hours south east of San Antonio.  I could have gotten off the toll road and back to IH35 just south of Austin, where they are still fairly close together, but instead I drove way out of my way in order to find myself not much closer to San Antonio than Austin is in the first place.  No wonder for up to 40 or 50 miles at a stretch mine was the only car on any visible part of the road.  It’s not that Texans are too cheap, it’s that you pay the toll for the privilege of winding up nearly as far from where you’re trying to get to as you were when you started.

Here is where my dislike of Apple maps comes in and overtakes my dislike of Texas toll roads.  Heading into a city with numerous options on how to get from one place to another can be more convenient than only having one way, but it also easily gets overcomplicated.  The Apple map directions from my current location, while stopped off IH10 about 20 miles south east of the city, consisted of getting on the inner loop, going south (which would also take me west, if I got on the first crossing, then north), taking another road I haven’t mentioned, state hwy 281, which goes from the center of San Antonio to a small town west of Austin, and is mainly important because S.A.’s airport is on it.  Then via  a complicated series of side streets getting on to the south end of nwmh and travelling up to the other end, at the corner of nwmh and Wurzbach, which also happens to be the north end of nwmh.

I’ve mentioned that Wurzbach goes east-west between the inner and outer loop, in fact it’s long enough that it crosses IH35 on the east side and IH10 on the west.  Given that it is a major road that crosses two major highways, and is the cross street for the north end of the road I want to get to, and further, that the address I want to get to is on that corner, it wouid make some sense to get on Wurzbach itself from either of the two highways it crosses.  Granted if I was coming down IH35 it would make sense to take a shortcut around either of the loops, since where I was going was much closer to IH10 than to IH35, but I wasn’t, I was already on IH10.  The easiest way to get there, and also the shortest, is to simply stay on IH10 through the middle of San Antonio, remain blissfully ignorant of inner and outer loops and interstate highway crossings, exit at Wurzbach and go three lights to exactly where I was going.  Of course, I didn’t realize any of this at the time, I was following Apple maps dodo-headed directions instead.  Even, say, had IH10 been a slow road through S.A., and getting on the loop was a short cut, it would have been half the distance to get on the inner loop going north, not south, since pretty much by definition, if you want to get to the north side of a circle from the south east side, the fastest way is to go north and west, not south and west and north and east.  Thanks a lot, Apple, now how do I get Apple mail to launch Google’s f*ing maps?

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