Frustration reached boiling point last week. Parked outside the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, attempting to input a reminder on my iPhone. “Siri”, says I, full of self-importance, “remind me to do that special thing when I get home.”
Siri – as saccharin-sweet as ever – asked “Which home?” Last time I checked I have just the one – filled with dogs, cats and a wife. I tapped the first line of my address on the screen.
Siri answered “Sorry.”
I did it again, she answered again. “Sorry”.
My iPhone (and Siri) has been by my side and spent countless nights inches from my nose. She has my full contact details held to her silicon heart. Yet she still doesn’t know how to work out where I live.
Some years back, Apple – in their infinite wisdom (or a fit of pique) – shunned Google Maps in favour of their own in-house mapping system. Apple Maps, as was then reported with obvious glee, launched in a half-baked state – completely unfit for purpose.
There was the oft-retold tale of the ‘second international airport’ in Dublin, though my personal favourite was a road in Ennis that didn’t exist. Apple Maps, though terrible, slowly improved over the years and is now perfectly reasonable – provided you live in a large country or an urban area.
To be able to use my phone to remind me to do things when I get home … to be able to set it to the things that are advertised for years now … that’s what I’m after. Simple, huh?
Problem is, last time I checked I live on a small rural island. My home, an idyllic oasis of calm surrounded by trees, cows and grass, perfumed regularly with the heady scent of marinated slurry, is very much rural. We got our very own Eircode, so we’re finally rocking the 20th Century. I can fire my Eircode into Google Maps, Here Maps, Navigon or another half-dozen apps on my iPhone, and every one of them can tell me exactly where my house is. (You never know navigation using the point-and-grunt system might fail.)
Welcome Back to the United Kingdom, Rural Peasants
So, thoughtful critter that I am, I added the Eircode to my contact details, naively believing that Siri would then know – to the millimetre – where I lived. I naively thought a reminder would then work perfectly … except it doesn’t.
Contacts shows that I now suddenly live in the UK. I’m willing to be corrected on this, but Tubber has not been legally part of the UK since 1921. There was the little matter of the War of Independence and all that?
Thanks, Apple. Thanks for turning back time. Does this mean we have to Brexit too?
It gets worse. If I omit the Eircode, Apple Maps then tells me I live near Athenry, a good hour away. There’s another townland of the same name there. With so many similarly named places in Ireland this is a common problem, but there is no dropdown to allow me to set the correct one.
And if that wasn’t enough to make me have a freakout in my car (and, while doing so, scare the bejaysus out of a couple of passing American tourists), there’s the little matter of the “Clare Circuit”. This one really makes me growl viciously and have small children and pets back away.
Back in the early 2000s we had charming little devices called PalmPilots. Michelin sold a branded electronic map of Europe for the Pilot. Awesome, n’est pas? … except when it came to Ireland. All of Europe came on three CDs – there wasn’t a lot of room to vroom. On the (otherwise empty) road from Limerick to Galway was the tag “Clare Circuit”. In my near five decades of being a happy Bannerman I’ve never heard the term used anywhere else.
Guess what Apple calls the R458 north of Ennis, the old N18, the coast road and the N65?
The “Clare Circuit”.
It annoyed me so much I once sent an email to Tim Cook, asking him to get it fixed. He ignored me. (I might have been a little sarcastic. To be honest, I would have ignored me too.)
First World Problems
Even now with iOS 11 (and don’t start me on how slooooow my iPhone 6+ has become since Tuesday) Apple Maps still won’t successfully allow a sweet, innocent, charming rural dwelling dweeb such as myself to set his home location. Apple’s mapping system is a complete and total write-off for rural Irish users, dragging down its offering to near uselessly. I can’t accurately use Reminders or other location-specific tools as a result.
And don’t start me on the drama of submitting places to Apple Maps, the nightmare of getting inaccurate information corrected, the restrictions on adding small businesses operating from home … that’s subject matter for another day.
It can’t be that my iPhone is dumb or Apple can’t do things right. They just don’t appear to care about serving the small Irish demographic despite their European base being in Cork.
Before you assault me with a thousand “Android is better, nyah” comments, in all other respects I’m content with my iPhone and won’t abandon it just because of this. I do wish it was better. Much, much better.
Aw, dammit. I forgot to do the thing I needed to be reminded about when I got home …