Google Maps vs Apple’s custom maps. Note the increased road/path detail from OpenStreetMap visible in the Apple version of this map of Vienna, Austria.
Apple has finally acknowledged that its iPhoto application for the iPhone and iPad uses OpenStreetMap data.
Open up a map in iPhoto for iOS and one of the first things you’ll notice is that the familiar beige and yellow Google Maps are nowhere to be found. Instead you’ll see Apple’s homegrown maps, the look of which is distinctly Apple’s, but the data behind the maps comes from the open source mapping project OpenStreetMap.
Until now Apple did not provide any credit to OpenStreetMap. Earlier this week Apple updated iPhoto for iOS and among the changes is a new notice that says the data comes from OpenStreetMap. It’s buried in the app credits where most people will never see it, but it does fulfill the licensing requirements that govern OpenStreetMap data.
For those unfamiliar with it, OpenStreetMap is an open source project that maintains an editable map of the entire globe. Anyone can make edits and add data to the map, which is why it’s often called the “Wikipedia of maps.” Although OpenStreetMap has been around for some time, it’s recently become considerably more visible as part of iPhoto and before that as part of Microsoft’s Bing Maps. Additionally some high-profile websites are starting to move away from Google Maps — like Foursquare, which ditched Google Maps in favor of OpenStreetMap.
It’s been clear for some time that Apple is looking for a way to wean itself off Google Maps. Apple has even purchased several mapping companies, including Placebase, an online-mapping company and C3 Technologies, which creates 3D maps.