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Mapbox launches a SDK to replace Apple maps on iOS devices

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Mapbox, developers of detailed mapping and location data based around the open source-based OpenStreetMap, has launched a free SDK for developers that can be used to replace the native mapping system on a mobile device. by altering a few lines of code.

Mapbox is a mapping platform for developers whose building blocks make it easy to integrate location into any mobile or online application. The vast majority of Mapbox’s data is in the open. Large sources include OpenStreetMap, USGS, Landsat, Natural Earth, and OpenAddresses.

As explained by Mapbox’s CEO Eric Gundersen, the APIs are an exact match with (Apple’s) Mapkit and is easy enough to switch to Mapbox. All of the styles that service offers are built using video game graphics technology and render at a fast 60 frames per second. He said-

Apple isn’t just bad at maps, it’s not taking location seriously. Apple’s analytics looks like Google analytics — in 2007. Our maps are not just better and beautiful. Our maps get better as people use them. Data is aggregated and anonymized as it’s collected, and helps us make a better maps by adding new roads, showing traffic, best set estimated times of arrival and more.

For now, the SDK is available only for iOS developers and will be out soon for Android as well. For now, the pricing for the new SDK will be free for up to 50,000 monthly active users. As explained by Gunderson –

Honestly we are not sure how best to charge for MAUs, so we just figured, Hey, let’s launch this and open up a conversation with developers to help us guide how we should change.

Apple started with its own mapping service in 2012 after it kicked out Google and, ever since, it failed to garner any sort of appraise from its users. Gunderson also criticized the tactics Nokia uses for its HERE maps service-

Nokia HERE is just doing it wrong. They are spending over a half a billion dollars a a year driving cars around and processing that data. That was how you made a map 10 years ago — like back when you had these little Nokia dumb phones. These guys don’t understand the idea of building for mobile and building tools for developers — if they did they would be able to get real time data streams back and have a better map. The future is about open data, great tools for developers, and real time data from users that feed back into a better map.


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