Foursquare says goodbye to Google Maps; who’s next?

foursquare new mapsFoursquare has been making some moves. Yesterday at Mobile World Congress the social-local application announced it would be using predictive technology to suggest new places for its users to check out. It’s also looking into new partnerships, and has set its sights on more completely cornering the location market.

And today it announced a “little” change for its platform: it will be ditching Google Maps in favor of OpenStreetMap. “Starting today, we’re embracing the OpenStreetMap movement, so all the maps you see when you go to will look a tiny bit different (we think the new ones are really pretty),” Foursquare said via its blog. “Other than slightly different colors and buttons, though, Foursquare is still the same site you know and love.”

Foursquare explains that while it’s been using the Google Maps API since its beginning, it’s happier to promote crowd-sourced, open data. Foursquare also says Google’s pricing was the original impetus for finding a new solution, but that OpenStreetMap combined with MapBox’s map design application ultimately fits the company best.

This isn’t the first platform to leave Google Maps, and it won’t be the last. Google’s been attempting to claim some stake over the geo-social space for itself, an effort it’s increasingly pouring resources into. Moving its maps technology elsewhere means Foursquare is taking some users and support (and money) away from Google. Foursquare’s users might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of outside integration Google supports, but the application is growing fast and it’s a smart business move to go a different route. Others have taken this route as well: AAA’s TripTik travel app will move to Bing Maps this fall. Last month, MapQuest launched its mobile APIs to attract outside integration.

Why a number of big app makers are looking for smaller platform APIs and more Google Map alternatives is obvious: location search is happening via apps. A new comScore report reveals that 49-percent of smartphone and tablet owners are using apps to find local information – and you need a map to do that.

It’s not all good news, however. As users, Google Maps is comfortingly familiar. We’ve gotten incredibly used to its interface and using it is second nature for most of us. If we know anything about the average consumer, it’s that change doesn’t come easy. Garmin knows that better than anyone: about a year ago, the GPS service decided to switch from Google Maps to Bing Maps. Now Bing Maps have come a long way since then, but at the time it wasn’t able to give users precisely what they wanted:

“Garmin, I’ve been extolling the virtues of Garmin Connect to every runner I meet – simple to use, very intuitive, and beautiful to look at. This afternoon, after seeing the new Bing maps, I may have to stop spreading the Garmin Connect love. The Bing Maps text is difficult to read, and the graphics look terrible. A drastic step backwards [sic] for Garmin Connect.”

There were pages of complaints and users were displeased about the change to say the least. A year later (yes, a year), Garmin finally responded by making it optional for users to choose Bing Maps or Google Maps.

As more and more apps begin to search for alternatives, however, those non-Google options will start to step up their game and deliver better products. Choices are good for the user but only when the quality is there: nobody wants location apps to start ditching Google Maps just because they fear its competition. Foursquare is a big, big name in the social-local market, though, and its leading the way could signal attitude changes and positive growth in mapping services. There’s certainly plenty of motivation to tap this market. 


‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ parachutes onto PlayStation 4 on December 7

Following months of speculation, PUBG Corp. has announced that PUBG is coming to PS4 on December 7. The PS4 version includes all three maps and major features, and you can get some PlayStation-themed apparel items by pre-ordering.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.

Google Maps tests feature that will help drivers avoid crashes, speed traps

Google Maps is testing a feature that lets drivers report crashes and speed traps so the app can plan efficient routes for others in the area, or warn of upcoming hazards. Waze, which Google owns, already offers such a feature.

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.

Best Google Pixel 3 XL screen protectors

It's tough to find good screen protectors, but the 6.3-inch OLED screen in the Google Pixel 3 XL definitely demands to be protected from scratches and impact damage. We've picked out the best options and included insight into the downsides.

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.