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Google Open Source Wikipedia Technology

Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap 166

Posted by timothy
from the location-aware dept.
Techdirt reports that the latest versions of Wikipedia's mobile apps have switched to OpenStreetMap from Google Maps. Says Techdirt's commentary: "One wonders how Google didn't see this coming — or if they did, what exactly their strategy is here. OpenStreetMap is gaining a lot of momentum, and in some areas even features much better data. The real lesson here is that there's never an incumbent that isn't at risk of being unseated, no matter how widespread the adoption of their product or service—especially if they make an anti-customer decision like Google when it put a price tag on Maps. The situation also points to the long-term strength of open solutions: while a crowdsourced system like OpenStreetMap never could have put together a global mapping product as quickly as Google did, over time it has become a serious competitor in terms of both quality and convenience."
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Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap

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  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#39612333) Homepage Journal

    http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tile_usage_policy [openstreetmap.org]

    (if you make an app you should mirror the stuff to your own servers.. there's couple of links to services providing tiles based on osm data there)

  • Re:Danger Google (Score:4, Informative)

    by lastx33 (2097770) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:57AM (#39612391)

    If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

    I agree. Have already switched to DuckDuckGo and it's a breath of fresh air to miss out on the ads and not worry about being tracked. I have contributed to OpenStreetMap and have seen the content on it it grow over the last couple of years at a terrific rate. It has the potential to be an absolute goldmine of information as more people contribute gps tracks and local points of interest.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:10AM (#39612453) Homepage

    Google doesn't really own any natural monopolies. Android has a big network-effect advantage, as does Google+ (though the latter has very low market share).

    The areas where government really has to step in are things like telecoms (especially when monopoly status is codified in law), and situations where somebody has gotten a huge majority where a network effect matters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#39612619)

    You can cache maps using Google Maps on Android devices. I've cached the whole area around where I live and can use GPS with it without any Internet connection.

    To cache a map area click somewhere on the map, then click the little arrow on the right that shows more detail, then at the bottom you should see a button labelled "pre-cache map data".

    However, the OSM maps are far far better in my area though, which is reason enough to use them over Google Maps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#39612621)
    One thing to check on: it seems that a lot of the AGPS (Assisted GPS) devices in phones these days won't work at all if they don't get a signal from the network. There were some interesting reports from folks in a few areas where their cellular networks went down for a day or two and GPS completely stopped working. So check to see if yours is one that will even work if it has no CDMA signal.
  • Re:Danger Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by TeXMaster (593524) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:45AM (#39612629)
    I would like to use DDG too, but the only thing it has which is useful (at least as of now) is the zero-click info-box. The actual search results are quite horrible compared to what Google provides (probably because DDG relies essentially on Bing, which is having huge problems keeping their database in good shape).
  • Re:Danger Google (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:55AM (#39612681)

    Have already switched to DuckDuckGo and it's a breath of fresh air to miss out on the ads

    Err, apart from the ads [duckduckgo.com] that DDG serves?

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:06AM (#39612733) Journal
    I use OSMAnd. With the free version I need to grab the map files manually, although the paid one will download them from in-app. I currently have maps for northern France, Belgium, and the UK on my SD card, taking up a bit over 1GB.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:50AM (#39612967)

    I use Locus. Paid version of Locus is awesome, although the sheer number of features makes it a little complicated for non-techies.

    Also, make sure you download the AGPS data before you leave (and periodically during your trip). You can download the free version of "GPS Status" to help you do this. Otherwise you'll have trouble getting a GPS fix abroad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#39613201)

    Their own wiki page is slashdotted and whatever image that was to the right has been blocked.

    If you bothered to read the text under the "blocked image" you would see that it's an example of what you get if your app overuse the community-servers. It's supposed to be like that.

  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @07:15PM (#39615075) Journal

    Actually, I've been pretty impressed with OpenStreetMap and the places I've been. That said, I've also occasionally run into missing and incorrectly labeled things.

    One of the cool things with OSM, though, is that you can fix the issues. Go buy an inexpensive bike GPS (I use a Garmin Edge 205 [garmin.com]), ride around your neighborhood and map the streets. It's a pretty entertaining way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Getting the data into it can be a little tricky if you're not good with the various file formats, but it's pretty well documented. I would imagine that there are smartphone apps for doing this as well (the person above mentioned [slashdot.org] Waze [waze.com])

    If you're more of a couch potato, you can actually go through satellite images and add mapping information from those. Or you can just go through existing maps and enhance them with some local intelligence--I went through and added bike lanes to the streets that I knew had them and added appropriate connections from bike paths to streets. About the only issue you need to be concerned with (from a legal standpoint) is that you should avoid copying information from other maps (eg, Google) until you actually read the terms of service.

    Unlike a lot of open projects, you don't need to be a computer science major to contribute. In this case, you don't even need to be an expert cartographer. So rather than complaining that nobody has updated your area since 2003, go ahead and do it!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @07:27PM (#39615137)

    So add it? That's kind of the whole point of OpenStreetMap. If you see a mistake in your neighborhood, YOU can go fix it and it shows up on the map immediately. Adding basic roads for a new subdivision can be done in a few minutes if you are familiar with the area. But of course it is still easier to moan about it on slashdot instead of actually contributing to society.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @07:40PM (#39615217)

    waze does not use openstreetmap and never has. any data you contribute does not go into an open database of any kind, you "donate" it to the project owners.
    it's the opposite of open.

  • Re:Danger Google (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pathwalker (103) <hotgrits@yourpants.net> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:13PM (#39615721) Homepage Journal

    They've been there for years; haven't you noticed how some drivers mention the organization that sponsored writing them?

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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