Places search function limited since migration to google

Since the migration to Google places I believe the search function has gotten worse.

When at a new location it barely offers any options in a short distance, whereas Foursquare would always have everything.

It doesn’t seem to be a limitation on Google’s side in terms of data though, as I have occasionally made a private place (with the same name as what I would expect the Foursquare/Google location to have), then come back to change the private place and the ‘real’ location from Google then shows up as an option (complete with icon).

Is this a known issue? Is this even an issue?

Hi @alexkenny57!

In our testing Google Places has had significantly better coverage than Foursquare, at least across Europe and Asia.

Foursquare’s database has unfortunately been slipping further and further out of date, while Google continues to be the leader in mapping, and with Foursquare’s gradual demise, also now the leader in place databases.

What you’re experiencing might instead be a deficiency in how Arc is making use of Google’s API. The first catch is that Google Places is much more expensive, so I’ve had to limit its use. Now a places search won’t be done until you tap the search bar, so when you open the edit/confirm view the places list will initially only contain your previously used places, and not fill in with Google results until you open the search field.

The second catch is that Google’s places search seems to weirdly favour returning results that are “everything but the place we think you’re actually at”. Like it’s as though it’s tuned to look for destinations, instead of the actual most likely place right at your location (or the location of the visit you’re editing). It will still return the correct place though once you start typing in the search field - it’ll find it based on name match.

This is probably why you haven’t seen the place in the results the first time, then it’s there when you come back later. In my initial testing I even noticed an odd behaviour where it seemed like even searching for the exact name didn’t show the correct result, but mysteriously it appeared seconds later when I changed the search to something else. Weird, and I couldn’t reliably replicate it, so I’m not sure what that was about.

Anyway I’ve I think fixed that problem in the next update, by fiddling with the search radius parameter. So far it does seem to be working a better.

Also in the next update I’m mixing in Mapbox place data too. The results list is again immediately filled with results, without having to tap on the search field, with the caveat that those results are from Mapbox’s database, which is significantly less comprehensive than Google’s. So there’s now a new button at the bottom of the results, letting you switch to searching Google’s database instead, if Mapbox isn’t giving up the goods.

1 Like