All posts tagged ‘open’

File Under: Location, Web Services

MapQuest U.K Teams Up With OpenStreetMap

The grandaddy of online mapping sites is turning to an open source library for its cartography data.

Mapquest, which is owned by AOL, launched a new beta site Friday that uses data from OpenStreetMap. So far, the OpenStreetMap data is only available on MapQuest for the United Kingdom and some of continental Europe, but MapQuest says it will broaden the scope of this experiment in the future.

Just to show it’s not messing around, the company has also established a $1 million fund “to support the growth of open-source mapping in the United States.” So, we can expect MapQuest to start hosting U.S. maps from OpenStreetMap at some point.

OpenStreetMap is like a Wikipedia for maps. It’s a fully open source and crowdsourced project. All of the geodata in the OSM system is gathered and entered by volunteers, and all of it is freely available for all to use. Furthermore, if you find an inaccuracy in a map anywhere in the world, you can actually go in and fix it. Here’s what a year’s worth of OSM edits looks like.

There’s a wiki with more information if you want to get involved. We’ve written extensively about the project before — check out some of the links at the bottom of this article.

MapQuest is using OSM for tile images and all cartographic data. It is then applying its own user interface and routing algorithms on top of OpenStreetMaps’ maps.

Here’s what MapQuest’s Antony Pegg has to say about the project on the MapQuest developer blog:

The goal was to create a MapQuest experience for the United Kingdom using only OpenStreetMap data. As much as possible we tried to use the open source software used by the OSM community, so anything we did to these tools could be contributed back. We picked the UK first because we felt we had the best shot of getting use-able routes from the data without having to worry about a language barrier at the same time.

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File Under: Mobile

Apple Should Have Kept ‘I am Rich’ App

I am Rich app

Fans of the iPhone may have heard that Apple removed several apps from its App Store after previously approving them. Though few are likely to argue with Apple removing malicious apps, it has gone too far with the most recent removal.

Last week a $999 app called “I am Rich” made news. The purposeless program displayed a gem in the center of the screen. That’s it. You couldn’t even change the color of the jewel.

After a very short life on the virtual shelves of the App Store, Apple removed it. As useless and overpriced as the app was, Apple should have let it stay in the store. Either the app would find no buyers (apparently it may have found as many as ten), or orders would trickle in here and there. That’s okay. That’s the long tail, right?

The internet is perfect for filtering out a lot of choices. We don’t need Apple to do it for us. Yes, if the app puts users at risk, remove it. If the app is irresponsible with privacy, remove it. But if the app doesn’t meet Apple’s quality standards, don’t remove it. Give it a listing in the store, let users review it, and let the market decide.

Taking away choices–even awful, terrible, expensive choices–hurts the users. The iPhone is a remarkable device and has the opportunity to fill the gaps of productivity and entertainment in anyone’s life. If there are a few people who want to pay for the status of a do-nothing, glowing jewel, let them.

Apple getting into the app quality business is bad for developers, too. Already you have to go through the gauntlet to get your app approved. Being approved doesn’t mean anything. Your app could still be pulled at any moment.

Yes, it’s Apple’s prerogative to decide what to put in their store, much as any shop owner decides what products to sell. By being unclear and secret, Apple is alienating both developers and users. And worse, by being snobby, Apple is discouraging app creators from taking some risks and trying out a wacky idea.

Think different, but not that different.

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