back to article Google Maps just got lost for a few hours

Google Maps Platform services went missing for a few hours on Friday as various APIs fell over. Around 0847 am PDT (1347 UTC), users of Google Maps Platform services began reporting problems. These surfaced on crowdsourced reporting sites like DownDetector.com and on the Maps Platform Status Page. "We're seeing reports of …

  1. Lorribot

    People seem to think cloud services are always on 24/7 and developers code accordingly, never bothering to put something in case that free service that has no SLA just isn't available.

    This always on and connected mentality even extends to developer/suppliers assuming your servers have unrestricted internet access to any web site they choose to install any python/other code are available packages from and seem to be upset/can't compute when you say, no, internal servers have no internet connection its a security risk.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Considering this is the first time I've seen Google Maps wobble in years, I'm willing to risk it.

      I don't want to store a huge geographic database on my PC that'll be outdated in a matter of days anyway, and my phone certainly doesn't have room for it. Android GM lets you download an offline copy, but it's not everything, just the map, and still that is huge.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        The world isn't that big - it fits on my cellphone. Maps, navigation metadata, addresses, businesses, geo-tagged Wikipedia, contour lines, hillshade, and some satellite imagery comes out to 362 GB. If you're wondering, the full English Wikipedia is about 90 GB. It's no big deal for phones still sporting a microSd slot. My car has North America on its SD card.

        Nope, I didn't notice the Google outage.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I don't want to store a huge geographic database on my PC"

        I assume your PC isn't providing some sort of service to other customers. What you choose to do on your PC and what a service provider choose to do are two different things. If you were running your state's emergency services you might well think it worth having that state's mapping locally resident or else second source Google Maps with OSM (or vice versa).

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        Correct. There's no such thing as a service that never goes titsup.com.

        The only important thing is to work out the likely frequency and duration of outages and based on this, whether it's worth the cost of having a fully redundant system using A N Other service.

        Given the length and frequency of outages in this case, short of using it as a deadman switch on the nuclear arsenal I can't think of any service where this would be worthwhile rather than just accepting a manual workaround for brief and rare periods.

        There's also another matter to consider. In my experience, redundant systems are prone to failure modes due to the automated redundancy paying silly Bs and thus going titsup.com even though the primary services are all running perfectly well. Adding unnecessary complexity in case of the sky falling in is almost always a bad idea.

    2. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge
      Flame

      EMS?! what part of "life-critical" do those devs not get?

      The EMS app devs' (and/or their managers') brains are "in the cloud."

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: EMS?! what part of "life-critical" do those devs not get?

        Well it is Texas, the state that won't mandate simple measures to keep its power grid running during cold snaps. If they're willing to let hundreds of residents die needlessly yet STILL refuse to regulate their power grid to handle cold weather, do you think they care about a handful potentially dying when Google Maps goes down?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HPS

    In India we always rely on HPS - Human Positioning System - which is always on, free and has multiple redundancies built in :-).

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: HPS

      But they do fall over and shut down several hours each night.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: HPS

        Nope...they work in shifts...after all they have 1.4Billion of them.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

    Hopefully the world found out that alternatives to Google are available.

    1. Withdrawn

      Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

      Every year I give osm a try. Still can't find any of my contacts addresses. One day the dream will come true for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

        So, have you ever considered adding your contacts' addresses to the OSM backend? That's kind of the whole point of the open, wiki-like map infrastructure. Or, you can just whinge about it a bit and try again next year.

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

          Uh, adding other people's addresses to a public database without their knowledge is... bad.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

            Adding a street name and number, and perhaps a post code, data that Google clearly already has, and shows, to a geo coordinate looks OK to me. It's not PID.

            1. LDS Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

              That all depends on how you do it. If you let anything access automatically your contact list with a lot of personal information is bad - you don't really know what they do with the data they hoard. If you add manually to the map with just the public information is another matter.

              Google here is often wrong about street numbers, especially outside main cities - and feeding it more data is not a smart choice either.

              1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

                Oh, right.

                Depending on my mood requests for access to my address book get replied to with a solid 'No' or get pointed to /dev/urandom

      2. Random Comment
        Unhappy

        Re: OpenStreetMaps, Here, Michelin

        I am still looking for a good off-line map utility.

        I used to have Here Maps on my phone. The interface was easy, the maps good and updated regularly, and it did not require the latest phone/tablet to work. The main advantage was that it all worked off-line. Searches, route planing , voice guidance were all consistent and reliable

        Then they went to v2 and the 3D interface, and broke everything good about it. They probably broke the things I didn't like as well.

        Deleted it and still looking for a replacement.

  4. Uncle Ron

    Not Just Maps

    I'm in Texas, USA. Speedtest reports 60-100Gbs. Win 10 machine reporting no problems. Modem and router re-booted. EVERYTHING Google is as slow as a snail. Gmail, Maps, Search, YouTube--all of it. It has been this way for 24 hours. I have seen NOTHING about this anywhere but El Reg. IMO, it's either Russian hacking or a HUGE Google glitch. I don't know which is more worrying. And NO other service or site is slow. Outlook is fine, bank and credit card sites are fine. Just EVERYTHING Google. WTF ???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Just Maps

      What are you using Google with? At least previously Google have slowed down Firefox on Youtube.

    2. Joseba4242

      Re: Not Just Maps

      60 Gbps at home! Can I move there please?

      1. Tomato Krill

        Re: Not Just Maps

        It’s in Texas…

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:Texas : Can I move there please?

        as long as you pay homage to their Dear Leader (Abbot) and don't have a relative is trans.

        My son was living just outside Dallas but after March 2021, he threw in the towel and got a transfer to Boston. He has a son who is trans (MtF). If he was still there, he could be charged with child abuse just for helping his child be the person they want to be. He got out just in time.

        By all means, move to Texas as long as you are aware of what you could be letting yourself in for.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Re:Texas : Can I move there please?

          FWIW "hormone blockers", etc. are already considered harmful in many countries (Sweden, UK) and by an increasing number of US doctors, incuding some who have undergone gender reassignment surgery.

          I have plenty of sympathy for those involved but no time for the extremists on either side nor for the burgeoning industry that has sprung up around it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hormone blockers

            The poster with the trans child didn't mention them in their post. Don't assume that transitioning always requires medication when you are a child.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Hormone blockers

              On the contrary, the poster made specific reference to the potential charge of child abuse, which only applies for minors.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Not Just Maps

        Remember that in Texas Gbps means Giga Bullets Per Seconds, not Bits....

  5. Refugee from Windows

    We survived

    So did millions of others. A few people might have got temporarily lost, the odd "South American River" packages will have been late, and even fewer will have gone hungry, unable to locate anywhere selling food.

    Even so, as someone has already said, the HPS backup will have been used. However here in Yorkshire the landmarks often used - churches, pubs, and now missing landmarks - plus sometimes unpronouncable place names ("Slowit" - is that Slaiththwaite?) and a thick accent besides, may have sent some in the wrong direction.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: We survived

      This weekend I unexpectedly had to go to Nottingham city centre, not somewhere I have been in the car for a very long time. Okay, I know how to get there, I have been told which car park to use, how difficult can it be?

      So I use Sygic SatNav on my phone as it was pretty close to the one VW supplied in the built in units (the car I was using does not have SatNav).

      So drive to Nottingham and then setup the SatNav "The destination you have entered does not exist in your locality, please download the correct maps". WTF, all the UK maps are downloaded. Okay update them maybe it does not like the fact it has not been updated for quite a while. No, some thing. Okay shorten the search, no dice so switch to just the street name. Eureka, it knows where to go, except the bloody thing doesn't. It took me on an infuriating loop of Nottingham city centre but not to Mount Street NCP. On all the signs there was nothing about NCP, just stupid symbols saying Castle etc.

      Try the link the colleague sent me, that takes me to Apple Maps and it does not appear to like doing anything useful on Android.

      Okay, give up try Google, ah-ha, Google knows where the car park is. It still thinks it is on Maid Marion way not Mount Street but I can see Mount Street on the map and it makes sense. Follow the directions and I end up at the correct carpark.

      Moral of the story, look in advance and print out a piece of paper, then you can see where you need to be and put context round it. The only reason I persisted is because the parking fee would be covered if I used that particular car park saving about £25.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Don't have a problem here

    If I'm going somewhere important (rare these days) I'll look it up a few days in advance, and make some notes as reminders. If there's a particularly tricky patch I grab an image and print it. That combination has never failed me yet.

    If I'm just going for a day out, I'm not the least bit concerned about getting lost - that's part of the fun!

  7. Yes Me Silver badge
    WTF?

    Who writes these memes?

    "We're seeing reports of difficulties accessing some Google Maps and Google Maps Platform services," a Google spokesperson told The Register via email. "Our team is investigating and working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible."
    I think that came from a spokesrobot, not a spokesperson.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: Who writes these memes?

      Are they any different?

  8. Nifty Silver badge

    TomTom

    Coincidentally I came across my old Tomtom Go with global road maps in a cupboard. Idly thought to myself, will it still charge in case one day there's a mobile internet or Google Maps outage? It didn't look like it, dead battery refusing to charge after 3 or 4 years lack of use. After persevering the battery sprang to life again after 3 days on charge. Reading this article today makes me think I'll keep it, out of date maps and all.

  9. Oh Matron!

    Alternatives are available

    I have a google map that reads from XML and shows all the flight routes I've ever taken.

    Out of sheer curiosity, I've built it in Apple Maps and LeafletJS. The code is almost identical. LeafletJS works even without an API key! No billing required. Apple Maps needs a developer account, but no billing associated with usage. Google requires a credit card for "billing purposes", whatever that might be!

  10. JimmyPage
    Flame

    Are they sure about those timings ?

    About 11:00-12:00am Saturday I noticed my GM had "gone funny" and wasn't updating my position.

    Worked fine today.

    Oh,. and WTF did they remove the speed limits when driving feature ? The ONE feature that HERE has and Google didn't for years. Then they did, tricked me into switching and removed it.

    And do you know how crap Android Auto is without Google Maps as the default navigation app ?

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