With the bicycle navigation for its maps app, Apple recently released a long-awaited function in Germany. Unfortunately, the system has not yet been able to convince in the test.
In mid-February 2023, the time had finally come: Apple activated bicycle navigation for its map service. For me, the update was a welcome change. After all, I like to use my bike during the warm months to get to my destination across Munich. Accordingly, I had high expectations of the system.
Finally, Apple says on its website that the Maps app offers routes on bike lanes, bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads. That’s why I recently used the beautiful weather and the temperatures above ten degrees Celsius to let myself be guided into the city. But I was disappointed.
Bike navigation from Apple in the test: room for improvement
The test route started in my home town of Garching, not far from the northern city limits of Munich. Well-developed cycle paths usually lead directly to the center and there around the pedestrian zone to my destination. I also compared the recommendations of Google’s direct competitor.
When I entered the destination into both apps, both Google and Apple recommended me an almost identical route. But after I placed my smartphone in the holder on the bike and started the navigation via Siri, there was one wrong recommendation after another.
Although the route was almost completely similar to that of Google Maps, Apple apparently does not yet know much about the infrastructure in this country. Already in the first section, a well-developed bike path parallel to the main road, Siri recommended that I get off every 100 meters. Apple probably marked some sections as exclusive footpaths again and again.
Siri keeps sending me off bike lanes
The entire route contains only roads with mandatory cycle lanes. In addition to the recommendation to descend again and again in the first section, the map basis was also not reliable. Even though there was a cycle lane, Siri kept recommending that I switch to the busy, two-lane main road.
This is not only dangerous, but also not permitted according to the Road Traffic Act. Also in the last section Apple could not score. The system guided me straight to the pedestrian zone. In theory, you should actually get off there, but according to Siri, I should just keep going.
For example, Google Maps recommends bypassing the zone. This is not only faster, but is also much more pleasant in the everyday shopping hustle and bustle.
Conclusion: Apple bicycle navigation in the test with strong weaknesses
I hope that Apple will improve this significantly. After all, the system could quickly become a problem for people who are not familiar with the area. In addition to the illegal use of roads, Apple repeatedly recommends useless or dangerous actions, which does not have to be the case in 2023.
Nevertheless, I like the approach much better than Google’s. Because Siri announces whether we are traveling on a shared path or whether we have to use the road. In addition, the map app shows directly whether we should descend in certain areas and how much time that will take. So the bike navigation from Apple has a lot of potential, but also room for improvement.