When Apple unveiled iPhoto for iPad, it demonstrated the many departures from the desktop version, including the the multi-touch editing, visual brush palette and AirPlay slideshow streaming. What Apple didn’t mention was that it wasn’t using Google Maps anymore.
When you check a photo’s location data in the OS X version of iPhoto, a map clearly labeled with a Google logo is visible. But when you fire up a map in the new iPhoto for iPad, that logo is gone, and the map’s labeling looks quite different (you can see the difference in the side-by-side comparison below). Detailed examinations from multiple sites determined there’s detail on the maps of some areas that isn’t visible on Google. Where is iPhoto getting its map data?
OpenStreetMap, it appears. Although Apple has yet to confirm, a blog post on the OpenStreetMap Foundation site says Apple is getting its map data from the community-created mapping project. To prove the point, it posted a link to a site that purports to show Apple’s iPhoto world map overlaid with OpenStreetMap.
While the Apple map clearly has a different design, the maps appear to have near-identical road and landmark information. The blog post says the iPhoto maps date back to April 2010, which could account for any discrepancies.
Separately, a programmer says he tracked where iPhoto was pulling its map data, and it was from a server run by Apple, not Google. From the evidence, it appears Apple has taken OpenStreetMap’s data to create its own maps.
OpenStreetMap is an open service — anyone is free to use its data and maps at no charge. However, the Foundation asks that anyone who uses the data provide attribution to its contributors. So far, Apple hasn’t mentioned any contributors, nor has it acknowledged that it’s using OpenStreetMap data.
Importantly, Apple is still using Google Maps in its other iOS apps (like Maps and the Places tab in the Photos app), so this is far from a wholesale ditching of the service. However, it appears Apple’s increasingly icy relationship with Google is trickling down into its products.
Apple has also been beefing up its own location data, saying last year it was recording anonymous user location data to create its own traffic database. The company has also acquired several mapping companies over the past few years — among them Quebec-based Poly9 — so the new iPhoto maps could be the first step in a move away from Google Maps in iOS.
What do you think of Apple’s move to replace Google Maps in iPhoto for iPad? Share your thoughts in the comments.
BONUS: iPhoto for iPad: Hands On
You can browse through photos sorted into albums. Albums are generated either automatically or manually within iPhoto for Mac.