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Foursquare goes open source, ditches Google Maps

MapBox becomes the face of maps on foursquare.com
MapBox becomes the face of maps on foursquare.com
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MapBox becomes the face of maps on foursquare.com
MapBox becomes the face of maps on foursquare.com

Foursquare has ditched Google Maps in favour of MapBox using OpenStreetMap data, citing Google Maps pricing as a primary concern. Google Maps began charging some of its biggest API users, like foursquare, last October.

OpenStreetMap can be described as “Wikipedia for geography”. It’s an open source collaborative mapping solution created by users all around the world. Foursquare are using start-up MapBox to beautify OpenStreetMap data.

Foursquare commented in a blog post,

“When we initially began looking around for other map providers, we found some incredibly strong alternatives. And while the new Google Maps API pricing was the reason we initially started looking into other solutions, we ultimately ended up switching because, after all our research and testing, OpenStreetMap and MapBox was simply the best fit for us.”

MapBox provides “greater flexibility” over custom map design for foursquare, allowing them to “alter things like colours and fonts” to better match their own aesthetic. The new maps are currently only displayed on foursquare.com – foursquare’s mobile apps still use Google Maps, for now.

One concern some users may have is the accuracy and broadness of OpenStreetMap data; although as an open source solution, maps can be quickly edited and additions made where needed.

It’s a big win for open source software to be promoted by the likes of foursquare. Let’s just hope it works out as planned.

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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+.