Buying a new car made me despise Apple

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Apple Maps? Nooooooo!
Image: Christopher Mineses/Mashable

The day I bought my Chevy Bolt EV, I was excited to plug in my iPhone and use Apple CarPlay to run my favorite apps on the dashboard’s huge infotainment screen. My enthusiasm quickly disappeared, though, when CarPlay forced me to use Apple Maps for navigation. Nooooooooo!

I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “Surely Apple Maps can’t be as bad as it used to be. Maybe this will be OK?” 

But after a few weeks of giving Apple Maps a chance, I had an epiphany: I can’t get the new iPhone. I’d been waiting for the iPhone X to replace my cracked iPhone 6S, but Apple CarPlay’s limitations — specifically the fact that it forces me to use Apple Maps for navigation — are making me reconsider. I need Waze on my car’s dashboard way more than I need Apple’s creepy Face ID.

My beloved Waze on Android Auto.

Image: Waze

Grrr,  Apple Maps.

Image: Apple

As a Los Angeles resident with a one-hour-plus commute to work, I’ve become dependent on Waze to shave time off my daily schlep. Waze’s excellent crowdsourcing features let me know when there’s unexpected construction, police, traffic stops, when I should skip one freeway entrance for another due to gridlock, and when I should get off the freeway sooner to cut time off my drive.

Apple Maps can’t help me find unknown shortcuts thanks to other drivers stuck in bumper-to-bumper purgatory.

Even with the traffic function toggled on, Apple Maps’ routes aren’t nearly as fast as Waze’s. During my tests, Maps consistently produced a route that’d take 10 to 20 minutes longer. Yes, it has an option for “more routes,” but those are rarely quicker than the first choice. Maps will redirect you along the way when it finds a faster route, and that’s a plus, but I want to have been driving the better route from the beginning. And twice now, Apple Maps has given me the wrong directions (it told me to go on a freeway heading the opposite way of home). 

Apple Maps can’t help me find unknown shortcuts thanks to other drivers stuck in bumper-to-bumper purgatory, despite quality updates over the years. The power of crowdsourcing is real. 

iOS 11 gave Apple Maps lane guidance, which tells you which lane to merge into ahead of a highway exit, and that’s great. Having to cross four lanes of traffic at the last minute is no fun. (Google Maps already has this, but Waze, which is owned by Google, doesn’t.) Apple Maps now also displays speed limits. Waze does this on your phone, but not in Android Auto — though that may change in a future update. Still, Waze one-ups Maps by alerting you to cops up ahead. 

Waze isn’t perfect. Sometimes it wants you to get off the freeway just to get back on or cross multiple lanes to make a left at a stop sign (boo!), but more often than not, it’s helpful. Waze is missing some great features that Google Maps for Android Auto has, like pinch-to-zoom (which Apple Maps also lacks). Google Maps also lets you click through the list of directions on your infotainment screen. Both Waze and Apple Maps don’t — Apple Maps shows the list on your phone, while your phone shuts off functionality when running Android Auto. If I wasn’t such a believer in crowdsourcing, I’d choose Google Maps over Waze. 

You can trick CarPlay into letting you listen to Waze directions, but it’s not a good alternative. One, I like to see the map, and two, the user experience sucks. If I want Waze to direct me verbally, CarPlay forces me away from radio stations and to Apple Music. But while playing my songs, Waze’s volume is so low that I have to crank the music up to an annoying level to hear directions (this volume issue doesn’t happen when using the Podcasts app for some reason). 

A consortium, led by Ford, is also working on its own app-based infotainment system. That will likely suck for consumers. It’s already bad when Apple limits the apps we can and can’t use on our cars. 

Before I got my electric car, I was driving a 12-year-old Mini Cooper with no aux port. I had a phone holder positioned inside my CD player. So yea, CarPlay was a big step up for me. I was pumped about getting smart features. But now I’m just bummed, even more so because I’m starting to feel a little bit of new iPhone FOMO (and don’t like it). I hate CarPlay for blocking Waze, but whenever a shiny new iPhone arrives, it’s still a little tempting, despite not being the best phone for me.

Apple declined to comment on whether Waze could come to CarPlay in the future, and Google didn’t get back to me. CarPlay does support some third-party audio, messaging, and voice apps, but I’m not holding my breath for navigation apps. 

I’ve had Androids before, and converted over to an iPhone with the 6S. Apple’s tight grip on its CarPlay ecosystem makes me want to turn right back around. Apple fans may say ‘It’s not like Android Auto offers Apple Maps.’ But who’d choose Apple Maps over Google Maps (or Waze)? Come on. 

On the bright side, I’ll save hundreds of dollars by skipping the iPhone X for the Samsung Galaxy S8, One Plus 5, Pixel 2, or countless other quality Android options. 

See ya, iPhone. Maybe we’ll meet again when Apple stops being so unreasonable. 

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