Apple Is Actually Using OpenStreetMap Instead Of Google Maps In iPhoto For iOS [Updated]



Yesterday we told you that the newly-released iPhoto for iOS wasn’t using Google Maps data to provide map tiles for geotagged pics. The news was particularly shocking because Apple has always used Google Maps in the past to provide mapping data in its apps.

As it turns out, the Cupertino company is actually using open-source technology from OpenStreetMap to provide custom map tiles in iPhoto for iOS.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation confirmed the news this morning:

The desktop version of iPhoto, and indeed all of Apple’s iOS apps until now, use Google Maps. The new iPhoto for iOS, however, uses Apple’s own map tiles – made from OpenStreetMap data (outside the US).

iPhoto for Mac and all of Apple’s other apps use Google Maps, but OpenStreetMap was used for the new iOS app. There have been whispers that Apple and Google are ready to part ways on their Maps deal come 2013, and perhaps Apple is testing the waters with other solutions.

Interestingly, OpenStreetMap notes that Apple is using fairly old OSM data from April of 2010, which explains the lack of map tile accuracy in many cases when compared with Google Maps. It looks like Apple is slapping its own interface on top of OpenStreetMap, indicating that advancements are being made towards a proprietary mapping solution for iOS and Mac devices.

Based on the wording in OpenStreetMap’s official statement, there’s a chance that Apple is only using OSM data internationally. We’ve reached out to The OpenStreetMap Foundation for clarification and will update this post if we receive a reply.

Update: Here’s what they had to tell us:

For the US, they appear to be using TIGER data – free data from the US Census Bureau.

We’ve not been contacted by Apple but there’s no obligation for them to do so – it’s open data that anyone can use. We have some modest license obligations and Apple are as yet not fulfilling one of them (the requirement to give attribution) – we hope we can work with them to sort that out.