Apple pulls a Foursquare and ditches Google Maps… but doesn’t tell anyone

OpenStreetMap-iphotoLast week, when Foursquare announced it was switching from using the Google Maps API to OpenStreetMaps’, we wondered who would be next. It appears we have our answer: Apple. While the unveiling of the new iPad easily stole the iOS spotlight yesterday, Apple also showed off some software updates, including the new iPhoto app.

The iOS photo manager includes the ability to plot the location of your images via a map, a map that is borrowing from OpenStreeMap data. “Yesterday Apple launched iPhoto […] for the iPad and iPhone… and we’re rather pleased to find they’re the latest to switch to OpenStreetMap,” the company says via its blog

According to OSM, the data Apple’s using is from 2010, however, so some of the foundation’s latest work won’t be found in iPhoto. Which is a confusing choice: we understand the motivation to get rid of Google Maps in favor of another API, but failing to provide an up-to-date mapping service is a pretty big hole. Apple is supposed to be the company that doesn’t ship anything until it’s perfect, and two years worth of missing information is a considerable weak point. And there’s one other thing: “It’s also missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap’s contributors,” writes OSM, “we look forward to working with Apple to get that on there.”

Despite Apple’s failure to give credit where credit is due, moving away from Google Maps is significant. It’s the latest platform to cut ties with the popular API, which can undoutbedly be tied to the increasing competition in the geo-social space. And in the specific case of Apple and Google, it’s all part of their digital rivalry. We’re wondering when Apple will make a complete switch away from Google Maps — this certainly would suggest that’s in the cards. 

And the winner in all this is OSM, which gets to profit from this crowded space and some of its brewing hostility. “…We’re delighted to see another prominent map user make the switch to OpenStreetMap, and look forward to many more.”