Mobile

Wikipedia updates mobile apps, ditches Google Maps

Wikipedia OpenStreetMap example on iPad
Wikipedia using OpenStreetMap data
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Wikipedia OpenStreetMap example on iPad
Wikipedia using OpenStreetMap data

Wikipedia released updates to both its Android and iOS apps earlier this week. In the process they decided, as others have, to ditch Google Maps in favour of OpenStreetMap.

Wikipedia’s updated Android and iOS apps, both of which are built on HTML5 technology, now use OpenStreetMap data using MapQuest’s map tiles to help display location-aware content.

Announcing the mobile app updates on their official blog, Wikimedia Foundation stated,

“This [OpenStreetMap] closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

So, in short, it’s as much a cost-saving exercise as it is an exercise in accessibility and an attempt on Wikipedia’s part to involve an even greater audience – last year Google Maps introduced rate limits, meaning services like Wikipedia that use their APIs extensively would be billed accordingly.

Last month, both Foursquare and Apple ditched Google Maps also in favour of OpenStreetMap data. While I fully support open source it seems a shame in some respects as Google Maps is a great, and probably superior, product.

The Wikipedia app is available in the App Store and Google Play now.

13 Comments

  1. For a lot of those services cost is a huge factor, so making the switch to Open Street Maps makes a lot of sense and the end users won’t really notice much difference.

  2. For a lot of those services cost is a huge factor, so making the switch to Open Street Maps makes a lot of sense and the end users won’t really notice much difference.

  3. Nice dig about the not very open Google: “making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone … which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

  4. Nice dig about the not very open Google: “making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone … which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

  5. Also, in Ireland, Daft have dropped them for Bing maps and Facebook have been using Bing maps for a fair while… The pricing seems way too steep and it’s pointing to a meaner future for google. The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if gmail charges soon… Has anyone looked into if the rate of “increasing inbox size” in gmail has slowed? Wouldn’t surprise me.

  6. Also, in Ireland, Daft have dropped them for Bing maps and Facebook have been using Bing maps for a fair while… The pricing seems way too steep and it’s pointing to a meaner future for google. The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if gmail charges soon… Has anyone looked into if the rate of “increasing inbox size” in gmail has slowed? Wouldn’t surprise me.

  7. Gmail inbox size increase has definitely slowed, certainly when compared to its rate of change 4 or 5 year ago. More of a gimmick than anything now i think. Buying extra space for Gmail is extremely cheap though. Not sure why Google would begin to price themselves out of the market with Google Maps usage fees – I blame Larry Page!

  8. Aye, true, extremely cheap for now. I notice businesses no longer get their first couple of gmail for enterprise inboxes for free either… Everything is beginning to be monetised… I blame Larry Page too!

  9. Gmail inbox size increase has definitely slowed, certainly when compared to its rate of change 4 or 5 year ago. More of a gimmick than anything now i think. Buying extra space for Gmail is extremely cheap though. Not sure why Google would begin to price themselves out of the market with Google Maps usage fees – I blame Larry Page!

  10. Aye, true, extremely cheap for now. I notice businesses no longer get their first couple of gmail for enterprise inboxes for free either… Everything is beginning to be monetised… I blame Larry Page too!

  11. One wonders was the new GMaps pricing done to get Apple to bring out their own mapping platform (which everyone knows they are working on) faster and unfinished but instead Apple went for Open Streetmap for now or get some last minute revenue before iMaps/Apple Maps appears?

  12. One wonders was the new GMaps pricing done to get Apple to bring out their own mapping platform (which everyone knows they are working on) faster and unfinished but instead Apple went for Open Streetmap for now or get some last minute revenue before iMaps/Apple Maps appears?

  13. I buy Onda, Ainol, Teclast brand tablet PC from China before, the quality is good. Ainol is new  brand, Onda and Teclast sell MP3 and MP4 before.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.