Apple Uses OpenStreetMap In iPhoto For iPad

IT Management

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As part of yesterday's iPad event Apple unveiled iPhoto for iOS. The new software, currently available in the iOS App Store, is a powerful photo editing tool for both iPad and iPhone users (provided they're running iOS 5.1, also released yesterday).

One of the more interesting things about iPhoto, though, is what Apple didn't announce. Like its big brother on the Mac, iPhoto for iOS allows users to see the location where a photo was taken on a map. The Mac version of iPhoto gets its map data from Google Maps. In fact, every Apple-made iOS app that uses map data - Find My iPhone, Find My Friends, and the Maps app - all get their data from Google Maps. With iPhoto, though, Apple appears to have quietly made a change. iPhoto for iOS gets its map data from the OpenStreetMap project, a volunteer-based mapping project designed to create free map data.

The switch was originally noticed by 512 Pixels yesterday. This morning, the OpenStreetMap Foundation themselves posted about the change. Though they welcomed Apple as "the latest to switch to OpenStreetMap," they also offered a little bit of criticism. It seems that iPhoto for iOS uses map data that's nearly 2 years old. They also point out that iPhoto is "missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap's contributors." They are careful to keep the tone upbeat, however, and say that they "look forward to working with Apple to get that on there."

Apple has relied on Google for their map data on iOS devices since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007. In the years since, however, the relationship between Apple and Google has grown increasingly strained, thanks to Google's entrance into the smartphone and tablet market with its Android operating system. Apple has acquired two separate map companies - PlaceBase and C3 Technologies - over the last few years, leading to speculation that Apple would eventually drop Google Maps altogether.

Whether this switch is the beginning of a bigger move by Apple is still very much in question. Apple released retina display updates to most of their iOS apps today, and those that use map data still rely on Google Maps.

What do you think? Should Apple ditch Google Maps? Let us know in the comments.