I’ve said it a bunch of times already, but it’s always worth repeating: Google Maps is one of the must-have apps right now, even on iPhone where an alternative from Apple comes preinstalled. Google is still miles ahead of Apple when it comes to maps and navigation, though the latter has been quietly rebuilding Apple Maps for a few years now.
Google is also adding plenty of neat, even unnecessary features to its Maps app, that can turn the entire experience into an even more enjoyable experience. And while Google Maps is almost perfect, there are ways Google is “ruining,” including a brand new tick that you won’t like.
To make the most of Google Maps you have to agree to Google tracking you at all times, and we already have a pretty good idea of everything Google can collect about users. It’s scary, yes, but it’s also a necessary evil if you want to keep enjoying the Maps app as it is. You have to pay for the app with your data, and that’s a good trade for many people — and Google Maps has over a billion users on Android alone. So that’s one way Google is “ruining” Maps, and your only way out is choosing a different navigation app.
But there’s an even more disturbing Google Maps feature that might annoy users, and that’s the built-in ads that pop up in search results. Here’s an example, posted recently on Reddit:
Here’s the explanation that goes along with it:
This ad in “emergency room near me” is way farther than the second option. In a panic, you might hit directions for option A and end up spending an extra 15 minutes on the road.
As you can see in the image, option A is clearly marked as an ad, but you might not notice that every time, especially in emergency situations, as Reddit user pudge_og says.
The top placement of the ad practically ensures that some people will click on it, whether they notice it’s an advert or not, thinking it’s the faster route. It turns out, in this case, it’s not the fastest option.
Other Reddit users seem to agree with the original poster:
These new ads in maps are infuriating – can’t turn it off and it’s messing with my ability to search for what I really want. Some the ads don’t make sense either and are a stretch to be relevant to what I’m searching for.
Other commenters are also annoyed at Google for including business names in navigation directions, like this:
The other day I literally had “make a left turn after the Whataburger in 500 feet.”
“Turn left past the Whataburger.”
Mentioned by name twice. But it was actually kinda nice to have a landmark for the turn I guess.
As one other user pointed out, Google’s way of delivering results can be dangerous:
The one thing about Maps that literally grinds my gears is that they don’t automatically load directions to the nearest ____ for certain situations that are obvious, and by which they easily have the means to facilitate. Key example: if I’m simply moving in a car, they detect this with the accelerometer and GPS. If I use voice-to-text during those conditions, I am obviously driving. So why is it that when I say something like “gas station,” it gives me (the person driving a 2-ton death machine) a list to scroll and through instead of automatically directing me to the nearest instance of what I asked for. That’s just fucking dangerous.
The full Reddit thread is available at this link. If you see ads messing up your Google Maps experience, you can just try to report them to Google and hope things will be fixed down the road.