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Meta, Microsoft, Amazon led group to challenge Google, Apple Maps duopoly

A coalition of Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and mapping firm TomTom is sharing data that could allow developers to create their own maps.

Edited By: Om Gupta

Published: Jul 27, 2023, 04:18 PM IST

google maps (1)
google maps (1)

Story Highlights

  • Overture Maps Foundation is all set to break the duopoly of Google and Apple Maps.
  • Overture Maps Foundation was established last year and shared open map dataset recently.
  • With this dataset, developers can create mapping or navigation products of their own.

A third front is all set to break the duopoly of Google and Apple in the online map market. A coalition of Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and mapping firm TomTom is sharing data that could allow developers to create their own maps.

The group, named the Overture Maps Foundation, was established last year and it has shared its first open map dataset recently. 

The data was gathered and given by Meta and Microsoft. With this dataset, third-party developers can create mapping or navigation products of their own. The data contains 59 million “points of interest,” such as eateries and attractions, as well as information about transport networks and administrative borders. 

“The release is a significant step in establishing a comprehensive, market-grade open map dataset for our constantly changing world,” Marc Prioleau, executive director of Overture Maps Foundation said in a statement, as reported by TechCrunch

For many companies, Google’s and Apple’s maps are not suitable, because they do not offer access to the underlying data. Instead, those companies let app makers use their maps as a service and, in many cases, charge each time the underlying map is used.

For instance, app makers pay per thousand Google Maps queries through an application programming interface (API) whereas Apple gives access to Apple Maps for free for native app developers, but web app developers have to pay.

Overture is only providing the underlying map data, letting companies build their own software on top of it. However, the company is not the first organisation to aim to create map data that can be used freely or cheaply. OpenStreetMap, started in 2004, makes maps using crowdsourced data and Meta uses the data in its maps.

CNBC quotes Prioleau, who worked at Meta until earlier this year, as saying that Overture tries to differentiate its data from OpenStreetMap’s by being more carefully checked and edited.

Meanwhile, Google Maps, last month, rolled out Immersive View in four new cities — Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence, and Venice — and also expanded the feature to over 500 iconic landmarks around the world, from Prague Castle to the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Android and iOS.

Google launched the Immersive View feature earlier this year using AI to fuse together billions of images and create a multidimensional view of the world with trusted information layered on top.

“If you’re planning a trip to Boston and want to see the historic Faneuil Hall, you can get a jump start on familiarising yourself with the area before you visit. Just search for it in Google Maps and tap on the first video to virtually soar over the building and find places nearby,” Google said in a blog post.

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Author Name | Om Gupta

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