Ten days behind the “Great Firewall of China” and for me that meant no Google, Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. The big surprise for me was how central Google had become to my life… and how replacements like Bing really didn’t cut it.
I hadn’t realized how much I liked just typing things like “red sox” into my mobile or laptop browser to instantly see the results of the game:
Terrible example, but it’s been a really bad season. They did win the World Series last year, don’t forget.
Bing would bring back links to the Red Sox website, the MLB website, etc. I would have to drill into these sites just to see how badly the Red Sox lost!
My email (both personal and work) is hosted on Gmail so I set up Apple’s native Mail.app to work with my email while I was in China. Boy does that application stink. Google’s webmail client is so superior, it’s hard to believe.
I was totally surprised that I couldn’t use Google Maps. I don’t know why, but I figured that wouldn’t be blocked. Oh, but it was. So I used Apple Maps on my iPhone to get around, but I have to say the search features on it are way worse than Google Maps.
For example, my new friend Carlos suggested that I visit an area of Shanghai named Xintiandi. Apple Maps gave me pretty shitty results when I searched for Xintiandi:
I guess it’s sort of my fault, right? I mean am I looking for a street, a subway stop, or what? I don’t really know, but neither does Apple Maps.
Of course, our friends at Google have no problem handling this ambiguous request:
Like with Bing, this then required me to go out of Apple Maps, look up Xintiandi in Wikipedia, look at their map, and then be like “oh, ok” before dropping a pin on Apple Maps to get to my destination.
They do a good job at Google, and I guess I hadn’t really realized it. I return from China with a new appreciation for them.