Microsoft and Apple embrace OpenStreetMap

“One of the many areas where Google is far ahead of Microsoft is mapping, with Google Maps by far the dominant map service on the Internet,” Preston Gralla reports for Computerworld. “Microsoft is employing an under-the-radar approach to fighting back, lending big support and big dollars to the open source map project OpenStreetMap. It looks as if the tactic is starting to pay off.”

The New York Times reported recently that a variety of companies have started to defect from using Google Maps because of the high fees charged for the service, and instead have turned to getting mapping data for free from OpenStreetMap,” Gralla reports. “The mobile social media service FourSquare has jumped ship, and for iPhoto, the iOS photo management app, Apple has switched from Google to OpenStreetMap.”

Gralla reports, “Behind the scenes, spurring all this on, is Microsoft. Microsoft hired OpenStreetMap founder Steve Coast to work for Bing as Principal Architect for Bing Mobile. Coast works on both Bing and OpenStreetMap… The Times reports that Coast is working on developing open-source software that will make it simpler for developers to get data from and use OpenStreetMap. And it also reports that Microsoft has been donating “valuable map data” to OpenStreetMap. Bing also uses OpenStreetMap data for its mapping service.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We actually prefer Microsoft Bing’s “Bird’s Eye” to Google Map’s “45°” which rarely even works for the locations we’re checking out. Bing’s “Bird’s Eye” almost always does.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

22 Comments

    1. I don’t know if Google has gotten any better, but the regular satellite view of my house showed a image over 5 years old where almost the entire neighborhood was an empty field. It stayed like that for almost 2 years and was finally updated recently.

  1. In terms of aerial photos, I don’t have a problem with any service being out of date, I understand that to regularly redo everything is an expensive, and largely pointless endeavour. Having something is better than nothing. Generally I find Google to be generally better (in the UK) for satellite images, but I do like Bing’s Bird’s Eye view, and love their ordnance survey and london street map overlay’s. In terms of general mapping I’ve not really got a preference. I mix and match really. The aforementioned bing overlays do make it a good starting point though.

  2. With all the money that Apple has, I don’t see why they can’t start their own mapping services or take over some company that can provide them with that function. Apple is always looking for something to do with their money and mapping and navigation services seems like a good thing for Apple to pursue. Apple definitely needs to divest itself of anything from Google.

    1. Apple has already purchased some mapping tech companies. The question is when they will pull the trigger and start integrating the acquired tech into their OSes or services.

        1. MobileMe. Safari for Windows. Heck, iTunes for Windows.

          That being said, those represent the exceptions to the rule. For the most part, Apple waits to make a good first impression with their products, and I’m sure their internal mapping efforts are no different.

  3. Here in the.bay area Google images are many years ahead of Bing. And Google Earth historical layers are wonderful. Whatever iPhoto is using is truly pathetic. I am no Google fan but they have by far the best arial imagry. My house has been flown 5 times in the last 12 years, while Bing images are at least 4 years old, GE image July 2011. Google owns mapping, they are the iPad of mapping, everyone else is hopeless. Apple has no need to try to compete in maps, just use Google,

    1. Yeah, I live in the bay area too, and Google is definitely the best when it comes to aerial imagery. I also see the Google mapping cars drive around on a regular basis. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with Google HQ being in Mountain View though.

      With that said, I would gladly ditch Google Maps for an Apple alternative, but until that happens I’ll just have to make do with the evil empire.

  4. HughB, I think you’ll find Google gets its mapping data and satellite/aerial photography from 3rd-party sources; it’s only StreetView that Google actually does themselves, AFAIK.

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