I rode my bike to work yesterday. It’s been an age since I’ve had the bike out of the shed, but it was a nice day and the trip would take me along the beach for a couple of miles and then through some nice parks. So why not? I pumped the tyres up, put my iPhone in its handlebar holster, set up Runkeeper and then plotted my trajectory with Google Maps.
I was given a few different routes. I didn’t pick the shortest. I picked the scenic route. I really wanted to ride along the beach. Google said it’d take me about 34 minutes. Google lied. Google lied big time. It took me 45 minutes. Google is pretty smart with ETAs when you’re driving. It takes account of live traffic information and known road surface info. It’s not quite so smart when you’re cycling.
The extra riding time did give me ample time to think just how smart Google Maps could get though. It could pull weather data and then add a couple of minutes because I’m riding into a strong headwind. From past data it could know I’m a bit off the average at hill climbs and add another couple of minutes. But I’m fearless on the descent – take a minute off. I’m cycling with Mrs P, so factor in her data. She’d normally do this ride five minutes slower than me. But she speeds up a little if we’re riding together, so only add three minutes.
Google should know I haven’t been on my bike in an age and add a couple of minutes on the last ride. Google should also know I stopped at the bakers and can tell from Apple Pay that I bought three big sausage rolls, a meat pie, chips and a bottle of Coke. Add another four minutes for being a fat, gluttonous so and so. And minus off a week on life expectancy. Really. With all that heart rate/diet/exercise/personal stats data available on my iPhone, Google should be able to build a killer app that can give me an ETA not just to my next destination, but also the final one.