With the release of Apple’s in-house developed mapping solution for the new iPhone 5 (and all iOS 6 devices) there has been a major outcry among some users bordering on ridiculous, frothing, outrage1.
Personally, the maps for my area are pretty good and the route guidance worked well even with no network signal.
However, some of the public reaction to the new mapping program is an excellent example of too much reliance on automation that is usually very reliable but falible (we’ve written about here, and here.).
It is very hard to discern what too much reliance looks like until the automation fails. Too much reliance means that you do not double-check the route guidance information, or you ignore other external information (e.g., the bridge is out).
I’ve had my own too-much-reliance experience with mobile Google Maps (documented on the blog). My reaction after failure was to be less trusting which led to decreased reliance (and increased “double checking”). Apple’s “PR disaster” is a good wake up call about users unreasonably high trust in very reliable automation that can (and will) fail. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will impact user’s perception that all technology, while seemingly reliable, should not be blindly trusted.
Some human factors lessons here (and interesting research questions for the future) are:
- How do we tell the user that they need to double check? (aside from a warning)
- How should the system convey it’s confidence? (if it is unsure, how do you tell the user so they adjust their unreasonably high expectations)
1I say “outrage” because those users who most needed phone-based voice navigation probably had to own third party apps for it (I used the Garmin app). The old Google Maps for iPhone never had that functionality. So the scale of the outrage seems partially media-generated.