More then an year ago I wrote a blog, where I was telling that Google doesn’t know where I live.
The issue was that Goole Maps had a very poor coverage for Romania, and Yahoo! Maps is a way better alternative for this part of Europe. I still believe that Yahoo! Maps is a better alternative but I was surprised by one thing. Occasionally I’ve visited Google Maps to see how things are going with the coverage of Bucharest, basically it was represented a single way to cross the city from highway A1 to A2, and nothing else.
About a month ago, I went back to check what was new because I needed to build an Romanian tourism app and… surprise, surprise, even though the satellite photos are of lower quality now, I could find my street using the search and even the block where I live. Even more I was able to calculate alternative routes to various locations in Bucharest.
It looks like Google has began to have a little more interest in this part of central Europe, now allowing for a real competition with Yahoo!. This is a great advantage for Android phone users who use Google Maps for there GPS app. Few years ago, to user Google Maps in Romania it was completely useless, you could see the satellite images, but that was about all, you could not find useful addresses, and if there ware marked on the map you could not automatically find a route to them.
Eventually I used Google Maps for my app, even though I still believe that Yahoo! Maps is a good alternative, as far as quality and API. Speaking of API, both of them seem ok and I don’t king that’s a criteria to difference them between the two giants.
A thing a little shocking about Google knowing where I live it was on an evening when curios to see if my GPS works on my mobile phone I went on my balcony. Everything was ok, it found me within 50 and 100m on the Google map, using my wireless connection for the data transfer. Another evening a friend came over to tried the same thing, using the same connection to the Internet, same Google Maps app, and he was found within 100m.
Nothing unusual in theory, but everything changed the next day when he told me that his phone didn’t have GPS, and what we ware seeing was the date from the last time I connected my device… so Google now knows where I live… literary…