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HomeIT IndustryApple Maps versus Google Maps? A free solution from Amazon…

Apple Maps versus Google Maps? A free solution from Amazon…


After forming a collaborative mapping effort last year called Overture Maps Foundation, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and TomTom have officially launched their first open map dataset. The new free resource could be a compelling choice for developers who don’t want to rely on Apple or Google Maps.

While we recently saw some evidence that Apple Maps may be gaining in popularity compared to Google Maps, a third option has arrived that could prove more enticing for developers to build with.

The Overture Maps Foundation released its first open map data on its website today available in four themes (via The Verge). Those include places, buildings, transportation, and administrative boundaries themes. The worldwide places of interest in the open map data are currently over 59 million.

This free resource means third-party developers can make their own navigation and map experiences without having to use (and in many cases pay) for Google or Apple Maps. And that is indeed one of the Overture Maps Foundation’s goals – to help developers “avoid depending on closed-source or proprietary tools and technologies.”

These are the four principles of the foundation:

  • Address the core, enable the periphery
  • Invent across the gap
  • Backward-compatible is forward-compatible
  • Always open

Currently, Apple charges developers for its MapKit access when building non-native apps and Google charges for its maps API after a free 28,500 maploads per month.

The new free map resource from the Overture Maps Foundation uses the Overture Data Schema which was designed with the goal of making it “easy for developers to quickly understand and use in building map products.”

And Overture’s executive director Marc Prioleau highlights how valuable the free mapping is for businesses. “The Places dataset, in particular, represents a major, previously unavailable open dataset, with the potential to map everything from new businesses big and small to pop-up street markets located anywhere in the world.”

Developers can download the Overture Maps Foundation’s first release now. And the group notes that it “intends to release open map data on a regular cadence in the future, the date of subsequent releases has not been established yet.”

9to5Mac’s Take

While Google and Apple currently dominate the maps market, if developers are drawn to Overture’s open source and interoperable appeal, and are impressed with how it works, we could see fast adoption on the dev side which would mean fast adoption on the consumer side.

Another aspect of this is with the new, open Overture Maps offering, Apple and Google may be forced to evolve their maps APIs to try and keep developers using their services.

We’ll have to watch and see how this plays out, but the competition should help push the maps experience forward across the board by giving both developers and consumers more choice.

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