“Go Pass This Light” Converts Me to An Apple Map User

Changchang Liu
Aug 5 · 3 min read
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Image for post
Traffic lights are being added at intersections

Probably you’ll laugh at me: I’m in my late 20s yet I’m still an “immature driver” — I am super nervous every time I drive.

Here’re the reasons:
- There’re a lot of cars on the road in Silicon Valley
- So many intersections being so close to each other — so are the highway exits
- As a foreigner (to US), it is already taking me extra time to process English (turn left, turn right, second from the right lane…)
- Not to mention for those exotic units of length — What does “in 0.2 miles, turn left” mean exactly???

Due to all those reasons, I always start to get nervous even before driving; checking the details of the routes, trying to remember all the turns. Because I know, when I find out that I got on the left-turn-only lane too early, I can’t take the shame (and don’t have the guts) to change the lane last-minute. I kept asking myself — how come 0.2 miles meant the next traffic light most of the times but not quite the case this time?

I have to plan more time on the road every time as I knew I would miss some turns. And such frustration accumulates which makes me scared of driving more and more the next time…

Until the new Apple Map got released — in which all the traffic lights are being visualized; and the turnings are measured by traffic lights instead of distances. “Go pass this light, and turn right at the next one” has changed my life.

That said, there’re still some cons of Apple Map. It does not always recommend the best route as well as Google Map. My guess is that the former does not have as much data to be used for training and learning. My current solution is, use Google Map to confirm on the best route; then open Apple Map to navigate. I’d like to contribute my data to an app that has better user experience. Or in other words, more user centric.

The whole map thing has made me think: how to win a user over?
The short answer, I assume, is — telling them the thing they care about, only the thing they care about; in the most acceptable tone.

Do all users have a clear sense of the distance?

Do they actually care whether the next turn is in 0.2 miles vs. 0.3 miles? When you’re sitting in your friend’s car and providing the directions, would you use precise distances?

Or simply say, “hey go ahead, it’s the next one” when they’re about to make a decision.

Similarly, I can’t remember how many times I’ve been debating with Engineers on such topics. Usually Engineers are all about being accurate when it comes to copy.

You may wonder, accurate copy — what can go wrong with that?

It could get too technical.
We have users who read HDMI3 as “HDM-thirteen” ; or 4K as “fork” — so be careful about terms. No matter how prevailing they are.

It could get too wordy.
So many user studies have shown that users don’t read; and long copy is intimidating to start with.

It could get “cold”.
What separates a product/service apart from another is the character it has. For 2c products, I won’t assume users would prefer to use a cold product. At least most of the time.

Lastly, Apple Map works well with Apple Watch. The watch will vibrate (not too intense nor too gentle) whenever one needs to take actions. Way to go, Apple Map.

Mac O’Clock

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