Saying Goodbye to Apple Maps Japan

A Buddhist priest friend of mine teaches that Buddhist faith and practice is not a big thing, but a gradual accumulation of small things over time.

That’s a good analogy for digital maps: the total is the sum of many small parts accumulated over time. The total must be greater than the sum of the parts. If it is less than the sum of the parts, the product is a failure. I hate to say this but despite the many improvements over the past year, the total of Apple Maps Japan is still a failure.

Here is a small thing I ran across recently near the battle site of Roshi Hall: Apple Maps lists the Grand Hall of Ikegami Honmonji temple, an institution with over 700 years of history, not as a temple but as an event.

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Apple Maps lists the Grand Hall as “Ikegami Honmonji Setsubun” which is a temple event, not a place name.

The Yelp Japan based information shows a photo that is not the listed place but an unrelated area near the train station. This is what the Grand Hall and the February 3rd Setsubun event held there look like:

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Ikegami Honmonji Temple Grand Hall
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Ikegami Honmonji Temple Setsubun Event

The Holy Relics Hall next to the Grand Hall is incorrectly listed as a Shinto Shrine:

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The Holy Relics Hall is not a Shinto Shrine.

By themselves these are small things but they illustrate a very big and broken process. Yelp Japan does not or cannot vet their data, neither does Apple. There is nobody with the minimal cultural knowledge to tell the difference between a place or an event. Apple looks incompetent which it is unfortunate: there are many smart and hard working people there working on maps.

A round trip to the “Report a Problem” system is the normal thing to do but after doing just that several times over the years, the system has a knack of reloading the incorrect information going back to square one.

Using a fly swatter in a plague of locusts is futile. Until Apple figures out how to obtain great quality primary data and accurately supplement it with properly vetted and curated 3rd party data, time to drop the fly swatter and run.

Writing about Apple Maps has been great fun and the deployment of new services such as Japanese Transit fascinating to explore. Until the old broken 2012 launch era parts (place names, roads, cartography, etc.) are cleared away and replaced, it is time to close a chapter and puts things aside until the next step arrives.

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