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Ms. Google is happier than sad Siri

August 1, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
An interesting — well, for me, at least — diversion on one of our trips last week was the navigational difference between Siri on Apple Maps and the unnamed Google Maps lady.

First off, there is a difference in tone of voice. Siri sounds depressed. She needs companionship. She needs to hear some jokes. She needs antidepressants and talk therapy. Years of it.

Google Lady is lilting and happy to be trapped in your cell phone, ready to feed you the next instruction.

“Turn left, (sigh) in 600 feet onto Route 65 south (but I don’t know why you would do that anyway, because it doesn’t matter),” is Siri’s instruction. “Turn left in 600 feet onto Route 65 on this beautiful sunny Western Pennsylvania Day! We’re making great time,” is Ms. Google’s attitude.

But more seriously was the gap in knowledge. Siri did not know that the bridge across the Ohio at Ambridge is out of service for painting work. She simply kept on wanting to send us to the bridge, despite lots of orange detour signs clearly indicating something was amiss at the bridge.

Google Lady apparently is tapped into PennDOT’s vibe and knows, man. She knows.

She cheerfully directed us upriver to the next bridge, at Sewickley, and got us across the river there, seamlessly sending us to our destination in Ambridge. We didn’t ask her to do that. She just did it. She didn’t recalculate or rejuvenate. She just did it from the beginning.

For fun, we left Siri turned on for awhile, just to see what she would do. She depressingly kept trying to get us to turn right at every intersection, telling us, pleading with us, to make a right and then another right and then go back downriver to the closed bridge.

Eventually, we put her out of her depressive misery by turning her off.

The lesson: These handheld phone GPS thingies are only as good as the most recent database update.

None of the routers, for instance, warned us that it would do us good to avoid the Squirrel Hill Tunnels on the Parkway East over the weekend, because the outbound tunnel was closed. Might have been nice to avoid sitting in traffic for 95 minutes. Thanks, ladies.

Use your eyes. Use your head. And, if possible, use the websites of the state highways departments before taking any drive of considerable length, just to update your mental database, which always should be in charge.

Even if it’s as depressed as Siri.


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