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Apple's new map service for iPhoto


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#1
Matthew Hampton

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There has been quite a bit of discussion on the interwebs lately about Apple's switch away from Google's mapping service toward an in-house solution for their the iPhoto software released yesterday. The word on the street is that they are using OSM data (unattributed no less), which is intriguing, but I was curious to know what you think about their cartography?

If I were grading them for the geography near Portland - I would give them a D. I am not impressed and think their labeling (particularly hwy shields) are abysmal at certain scales. I've attached a screen shot and here is link to a slippy map with comparability to OSM. About the only thing I like is the piratey-looking oceans at small-scales.

Attached File  Screen_shot_2012_03_08_at_9.02.11_AM.jpg   50.29KB   80 downloads

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#2
David Medeiros

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The relief shading is pretty awful as is the road to relief alignment in some places.

Hwy. shield placement is ridiculous (no shields for many miles on hwy, then 4 in a row - see sample shot below).

Town labels are an italic serif font with very close line spacing. Application of font size seems to be haphazardly applied. They look very much like water feature labels except for the slight color difference in the font.

Street labels remin on the CL at smaller scales when they should probably convert to offset labels.

Overall, very bad visual hierarchy, especially on the labeling.

I like the very slight costal vignette they apply at larger scales. I also like the water pattern Matthew mentioned at the smaller scales.

Is the OSM thing confirmed? As I flip back and forth between Apple and OSM I don't see any real data alignment between the two, at least around the Bay Area.

Edited to add: In Hawaii the OSM and Apple data looks much more similar. On a related note, the Apple map has some very narrow, muddy, jungle clad foot trails on Kauai labeled as roads!


Here's a shot of two particularly over labeled sections of hwy:

Attached Files


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#3
Mike Boruta

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The piratey-looking oceans were interesting at first, as was the news that the data came from Open Street Map. But the road generalization (omission) at certain zoom levels is really disturbing and misleading. I fear that the general public will blame this problem (and others) on OSM, when perhaps Apple is responsible.

It is telling that the early glimpses of these maps outside of IOS provide buttons to quickly compare Apple's map with the OSM default. Here is another slippy map link (which allows full-screen viewing and comparison with Google Maps too):

http://www.refnum.com/tmp/apple.html

#4
Charles Syrett

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Steve Jobs must be spinning in his grave. Where's the lean, clean design that he always insisted on during his entire life? I would have expected a white background, crisp single line roads, sans serif type......not this jumble of eye-noise. <_<

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#5
BioGeoMan

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I tried to zoom all the way into Albuquerque, NM (block level) and Apple wouldn't do it while OSM and Google both went all the way. Also, I noted that Apple land ownership data (public lands) is woefully inaccurate as compared to the others.

Ouch...

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#6
skorasaurus

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I also agree; I'm not a fan of the relief shading either.

Biogeoman, I think Apple has only released up to (The equivalent) of z14 in osm, which is: http://svn.openstree...om-to-scale.txt

Charles, I'm a bit surprised either. I thought the map would have been a bit more of the apple aesthetic, minimal rendering, no relief shading...

It's been confirmed by numerous OSM users, and OSM has made a press release on it - http://blog.osmfound.../welcome-apple/ ] that Apple is using OSM data (from the first week of April 2010) outside of the USA; within the USA, Apple is using TIGER (US Census Bureau), 2010.

#7
David Medeiros

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It's been confirmed by numerous OSM users, and OSM has made a press release on it - http://blog.osmfound.../welcome-apple/ ] that Apple is using OSM data (from the first week of April 2010) outside of the USA; within the USA, Apple is using TIGER (US Census Bureau), 2010.


LOL, that must make Hawaii "outside of the USA" since it appears to be OSM :D

Overall I say this is a fail for Apple. For a company so focused on good design this is very much a departure. I have no doubt that if Apple decides to really go all out and create a product that can compete with Google & Bing they will do just fine, but the reality is at this point they are waaay behind the curve. There's a point of diminishing returns in terms of owning all of the products in their "ecosphere" and Google maps is one where they are going to have a difficult time catching up I think.

Also, and this may not be popular to say around here, but I am very suspect of OSM data for broad commercial use like this. I think OSM has some well filled in areas but a lot of major data gaps exist around the world and being open sourced there is always, in my mind, the danger of including so much un-vetted, possibly erroneous or purposefully incorrect user data (ala Wikipedia).

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#8
DaveB

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Also relevant (a colleague sent me the link to the article):
Why are companies defecting from Google Maps?
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
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#9
Matthew Hampton

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That's a very insightful article! Since Google has started to monetize their offerings, the "landscape" for online mapping services is shifting also.

To give Apple a thin slice of credit - their current service is not for route-finding or specific geolocation other than where you took a photo. That said - I hope this shifting "landscape" would correctly place the freakin' Willamette Valley! :angry: The placement in my above attachment is apocryphal and very amateurish (as are several of their design decisions mentioned above). They certainly failed on their QA/QC for this service.

I wonder if they have the right folks for the job, or they're sandbagging and are going to amaze us with their C3 implementation? It certainly casts a new light on OSM...

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#10
p-dub

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Also, and this may not be popular to say around here, but I am very suspect of OSM data for broad commercial use like this. I think OSM has some well filled in areas but a lot of major data gaps exist around the world and being open sourced there is always, in my mind, the danger of including so much un-vetted, possibly erroneous or purposefully incorrect user data (ala Wikipedia).



I have noticed a small "Trap Street" in OSM data in Boulder, CO and it's in every example link above from Apple. It is a small non-existent street in a residential area. I found it because it is exactly where I used to live. I never bothered to submit a correction because it seems to have been placed purposely, named and all. Makes me wonder how many other "Traps" have been set by the OSM community.

#11
Dennis McClendon

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I doubt that it's a trap street, as those have had no legal purpose in the US for two decades now. Where exactly is it?
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
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#12
p-dub

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I doubt that it's a trap street, as those have had no legal purpose in the US for two decades now. Where exactly is it?


Asbury St in south Boulder does not exist. Zoom to 1190 Berea for the east node of the street. I made a quick search to figure out who/how this data was entered but came up with nothing. I am curious as I've just started looking into OSM in the past week.

#13
David Medeiros

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Related to this topic (I think) is a job post Apple put up recently looking for a "Vendor Data Manager". Apple is notoriously tight lipped about new projects so this ad is somewhat cryptic. Reading between the lines here it sounds like a data manager for Apple's nascent map group and it looks like the primary responsibilities would be improving and updating their global map database.


http://jobs.apple.co...&...&RID=108973


Apple is hiring Vendor Data Manager who will help coordinate content efforts for a rapidly growing product team.

The candidate will be part of a team that develops and maintains a complex database of global content. The candidate will be an experienced professional with a passion for ensuring continuous improvement in content types, coverage, and quality.

Responsibilities will include:
- Ensuring problems found in vendor data are promptly fixed
- Tracking vendor release schedules
- Managing resources to verify data updates contain the required fixes
- Optimizing vendor data delivery methods
- Developing relationships with global content partners; some travel may be required
- Writing documentation about our data sources
- Coordinating with other teams at Apple to ensure data updates meet their needs



Qualifications:

- 5+ years experience working for or with global content vendors
- Bachelor's or Master's of Science degree or equivalent desired
- Experience working with commercial, government, and military agencies
- Experience working in a fast-paced technology environment
- Experience with GIS data formats: SQL, Shapefile, GDF, CSV
- Great communication and writing skills
- Highly detail-oriented

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#14
skorasaurus

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I doubt that it's a trap street, as those have had no legal purpose in the US for two decades now. Where exactly is it?


Asbury St in south Boulder does not exist. Zoom to 1190 Berea for the east node of the street. I made a quick search to figure out who/how this data was entered but came up with nothing. I am curious as I've just started looking into OSM in the past week.


Asbury St. - the way that you mentioned - http://www.openstree...7026289/history - was uploaded by DaveHansenTiger, a OSM user who imported ways, en masse, semi-automated, from TIGER (the US Census Bureau's Data Set). If you still have doubt, you could check the 2007 TIGER database and see that AsBury Drive is (probably) also there.

Lastly, as an avid Openstreetmap editor, I've come across this same scenario (a named road which doesn't exist in a dense urban environment, that was imported from TIGER) a handful of times (I've encountered this much more often in rural areas too). My guess that it was an unintentional error made by the Census Bureau or a road that was planned to be built but never was.

I am fairly confident that's not a trap street, and if it is, it's from the US Census Bureau :D

#15
David Medeiros

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Lastly, as an avid Openstreetmap editor, I've come across this same scenario (a named road which doesn't exist in a dense urban environment, that was imported from TIGER) a handful of times (I've encountered this much more often in rural areas too). My guess that it was an unintentional error made by the Census Bureau or a road that was planned to be built but never was.



That's basically it. They're often called "paper streets" and are usually the result of recorded but never built roads or re alignments. It used to be a major part of a cartographers work to find and remove these roads from published maps. Less so these days ; )

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