Yahoo! and Google Maps… add more common sense, please

google, search engines, technology, yahoo

I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of searches I do on Google Maps and the splendiforous new Y! Maps (beta) are for directions from my apartment in San Francisco to somewhere else in the city. Here’s the sort of search I’d type in by default:

[{my address} to 16th and valencia]

But both Google and Yahoo! choke on this search, and choke bad. Yahoo! gives me an error message saying the address could not be found, and then nonetheless gives me directions to Valencia, Arizona. Google performs no better here; it asks me “Did you mean Valencia Road, Bromsgrove, Hereford and Worcester, B60, UK?” Suuuuuure, Google, I’m going to get in my car and drive from San Francisco to the UK. 😉

Where’s a Common Sense module when you need one?

For starters, how about assuming that if I don’t add on a city, state or zip code, that I’m intending to travel within my home city. On G, one can already define a default starting point. And I’d assume that, when logged in to one’s Y! account, Yahoo already knows one’s home city, too. Not to mention IP sniffing possibilities, too!

Or even better yet, if it’s not too computationally resource intense, it’d be great if the engines could assume a 100 mile radius and prioritize by proximity. That means if I type in 123 Mission St and I’m in San Francisco, I probably mean to indicate that street in SF or nearby, not somewhere in Minnesota. Since most of us don’t have zip codes handy when we’re doing directions, it’s a lot faster and easier to type [555 myhomestreet 94112 to 123 mission st] than [555 myhomestreet 94112 to 123 mission st, san francisco, ca].

Lastly, I understand that sometimes requests ARE ambiguous (maybe I meant mission street in a nearby city, not SF, despite failing to specify it)… so the services should always preface the results on such ambiguous requests with something like this:\

NOTE: We assumed you’re traveling to 123 mission street in San Francisco, CA. If this isn’t right, please retype your request and specify the city and state.

And heck, for that matter, why can’t I type [1531 19th ave to 99 valencia st] and have it assume I mean San Francisco (based upon my signin, my past searches, my IP address, whatever)?

Am I on target here, or would such assumption-makings on the part of the engines be more trouble than they’re worth?

3 comments… add one
  • SEO Florida Aug 6, 2008

    I can’t say about Yahoo,
    But Google map is now become an accurate map search tool.

  • ZIP Code Maps Aug 22, 2008

    First off I think Google maps are amazing; especially the new street view. Anyways what you are saying used to bother me too until I realized the you could throw ZIP Code after the street address and that was enough for it to work. That is plenty easy enough for me.

  • Salis Sep 4, 2009

    As of now, I saw some improvement on Google Maps, but not Yahoo. I kinda like the street view feature on Google Maps. However, at the same time, it makes me thing about my privacy.

What do you think?