⇒ In Praise of Google Maps

What began as impressive technology (much of it developed by other companies and then acquired by Google) combined with existing data sources (licensed by Google) has turned into the creation of massive sets of original and often unique data over the past seven years. It cannot be underestimated what an achievement the Street View project is. The early 21st century will go down in history as the first time entire countries were systematically photographed and these photos made available to the public. Assuming that this data will still be available in a hundred or a thousand years, what a tremendous treasure this is for future generations!

As excited as I am about what Apple is going to unveil about their new maps platform tomorrow, I agree with Ole that Google Maps is actually quite good. Anyone who has talked to me about maps the last few years knows that I really want Apple to hurry up and release their own platform, but not because I am in a hurry to get rid of Google.

Maps is one of the few Google services that I have no problem with. It has always been cutting edge and ahead of its time. On Android, Google Maps are even better that on iOS because they make use of vector drawing instead of bitmap images like on iOS. This allows for faster downloads and much easier offline use.

The reason that I want Apple to release its own map platform is simply because I think the API for it would be better than the one they supplied with Google Maps. Storm Spotter has always (and still continues to) push the MapKit API to its limits. Storm Spotter has overlays before it was officially supported by the framework and it now does custom OpenGL overlays (which are not supported by the framework).

Apple had their work cut out for them trying to create a Maps solution that was as good as Google's on day one. We will find out tomorrow if they succeeded or not. For me, the only way that I will consider them successful would be a solution that includes a combination of vectors and a revamped API.