mapI’m in New York for the second time in a week. This trip is for a director meeting on the studio’s dime.

While no one will confuse me for a native, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the city in the past few years. When people give me cross-streets, I generally have some idea what area they’re talking about. I’m a fast walker and subway enthusiast, so a visit to New York City is an adventure.

The biggest challenge for me is that beginning with my first visit in 1994, I flipped Manhattan north-south in my head. I don’t know how it happened, but whatever map I first studied was 180 degrees wrong, and it’s taken every brain cell to get the city reoriented.1

For years, I’ve been relying on my trusty laminated flat maps of the city. Nothing screams tourist like pulling one of these out while waiting at a crosswalk.

The advent of Google Maps on the iPhone changes all that. Quickly setting a few bookmarks, I can zoom in and out of the city. And if I have to refer to it at an intersection, I just look like everyone else checking email. But it’s not perfect.

  1. You can show where you are, or what you’re looking for, but not both. At least a dozen times, I’ve searched and found what I wanted — only to forget where I was at the moment. Yes, you can bookmark both locations and pull up directions, but a persistent “I Am Here” flag would be a great addition for version 2.0.

  2. Don’t automatically trust the pins. Upon arriving in the city, I searched for my hotel, and bookmarked it. However, it was four blocks wrong — a fact I only discovered when trying to get back to my room after a morning trip to Hamilton Heights. Fortunately, I remembered that I’m right next to the Directors Guild Theater, so it was simple to re-map.

  3. It always assumes you’re driving. When you use the directions, a “walking” option would be a huge help, since it could ignore one-way streets and other restrictions.

Once Apple releases the SDK, I hope one of the first applications is an iPhone-native version of M├ętro. It’s a terrific mass-transit mapper for the Treo and other platforms, which I’ve used to get around New York, Paris, London and Tokyo. There’s a web version, but that’s not especially helpful when you’re underground and out of signal range.

  1. It’s not unlike that damn [spinning dancer](, which is strictly clockwise for me. I can’t even fathom her going the other way.