Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘Make a U-Turn’

BuffaloCoward on Reddit, commenting on how often Apple Maps suggests doing a u-turn when using it for navigation directions:

I’ve always found u-turns to be stressful, and I try and avoid them if possible. Apple doesn’t know the turning radius of my car, I just want to turn u-turns off like you can toggle avoid toll roads or highways.

And the thing is, if you’re navigating and miss a turn the thing just turns into a[n] infinite loop of u-turns. No matter how many you skip it’ll just tell you to make another u-turn.

In Alberta, it is illegal to make a u-turn in many circumstances, including at any intersection with traffic lights. Even so, Apple Maps will demand you make a u-turn if you deviate from the route it has selected; it is the only way it seems to know how to return you to the route. Because I am not interested in committing traffic offences, if I miss my turn, I will make three rights in a row to get around the block, and then make a left turn to get back to where I started. That is a completely sensible alternative that Maps simply will not suggest, nor does it ever seem to re-route in a way that will let me follow the current road to a different intersection.

I was inspired by BuffaloCoward’s post, but where I disagree is in making u-turns an option. Apple Maps should simply be better at re-routing. A u-turn should be a last resort measure, only suggested when any other option would be either impossible or require an implausibly longer route. Every other way of changing my route after a missed turn is preferable to a u-turn and should be evaluated first.

Good luck to the team trying to get Project Titan out the door in four years.