Maps

 I have a lot of trouble with maps. Gone are the days when you had a book with pages and co-ordinates. The "A to Z" books of yesteryear are gone and now maps are interactive on the web. For drivers the idea of turn-by-turn navigation on a journey is central to getting where you need to go. 

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is government investment, but maps are in the hands of private industry. What we know as "big tech".

There are plenty of choices for maps but, as with many things, being caught in an ecosystem gets in the way. The "best" mapping solution may not be best for you. 

The sort of mapping solutions available are;

Apple Maps 

Google Maps

Waze

Open Street Maps

Here 

Bing Maps

When I used WindowsPhone, maps were easy. Bing Maps was available on my PC, my phone and everywhere. I could save frequently visited places on my PC then pickup my phone and it was all there. Mapping is both mobile, so you can keep directions with you, and static, so you can plan on a larger screen. The best solution, in my view, is having the same maps interface on PC, phone and over the web. 

The end of WindowsPhone also ended this integration. The collections I created in Bing Maps were gone. 

For a while I drifted to Google Android phones where native Google Maps sat there. They are excellent, no doubt, but then I ended up with an iPhone and in the Apple ecosystem. I could still use Google Maps but, as you might expect, the smoother integration was with Apple software.

Where did this leave Bing Maps? Out in the cold. I could still plan travel on Bing but that planning didn't seamlessly follow me to mobile. Microsoft might provide all their Office suite of apps on iphone but no maps app. Worse was to come. There is no mobile website for Bing Maps. There is a Bing app but it doesn't have maps.

I could get a version of Apple Maps on my PC via the DuckDuckGo search engine. However, you can't sign into your Apple account on there so planning is out. 

One option is Here Maps. Here is what Nokia used when it made WindowsPhones. It had a close relationship with Bing Maps but was sold when Nokia's mobile business was sold to Microsoft. Here is now owned as part of a consortium. That has an app, a website and has the look and feel of Bing Maps.

It's an odd world of maps. If you are entirely immersed in Google or Apple, then the choice is easy. If you have a PC with an Android or IOS device, then it gets more difficult. 

Back when I had a WindowsPhone and I saw Nokia was getting rid of Here I was able to export my Bing Map collections to Here. The other good feature about Here Maps is the consortium is European car makers. They take directions very seriously and cover public transport. 

As I move between computers, Microsoft seems to have left mapping as a poor relation. Access to Bing Maps is problematic. Right now, multi-platform maps seem best done with Here Maps most of the time but Apple Maps for software integration on mobile.  That will differ for Android users. 

The key takeaway for me is that consumer maps are very much part of the ecosystem tie-in that many other services have. 



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