We’ve long expected Apple to move away from Google as their map providers, and instead put its own acquisitions to use, after the relationship between the two companies started deteriorating. It appears that Apple’s already working on doing the first bit, with its release of iPhoto for iOS.
As noticed by 512pixels, the the map view in the app features tiles that have no Google branding at all, and are very different from the map tiles you’re used to seeing on Google Maps.
The tiles are being rendered by Apple, based on OpenStreetMap data, and not data obtained from its own acquisitions. The OpenStreetMap foundation confirmed this in a blog post titled “Welcome Apple!” earlier today:
Yesterday Apple launched iPhoto, its photo management app, for the iPad and iPhone… and we’re rather pleased to find they’re the latest to switch to OpenStreetMap.
The OSM data that Apple is using is rather old (start of April 2010) so don’t expect to see your latest and greatest updates on there. It’s also missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap’s contributors; we look forward to working with Apple to get that on there.
OSM’s license permits the use of its data for any purpose at all, at no cost. It does, however, require attribution in return. A portion of its license reads:
You may use the data for personal, community, educational, commercial, government or any other use that you can think of. We, the OpenStreetMap community, ask only two things in return.
Firstly, that you attribute OpenStreetMap, i.e. you show clearly where you got the data from.
Secondly, you “Share Alike”. If you publicly distribute something that you have made from our data, such as a map or another database, and you have added to or enhanced our data, then we want you to make those additions publicly available.
Most recently, foursquare, the location based service, announced its move from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap.
Apple hasn’t yet confirmed or denied its use of OpenStreetMap data. If you want to take a look at how Apple’s rendered maps look, head to this link.