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DuckDuckGo will use Apple Maps (spreadprivacy.com)
961 points by shritesh on Jan 15, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 468 comments

Some paint it as if the main reason to switch was privacy (https://www.imore.com/duckduckgo-switches-apple-maps-because... "DuckDuckGo switches to Apple Maps, because privacy"), but the previous map provider was mapbox (openstreetmap plus commercial sources) and I doubt mapbox collected more data than Apple is now.

DDG's main marketing model is talking about how they believe Google is privacy threat, so they'll highlight that angle in any change.

Google _is_ a privacy threat. Completely unrelated to DDG, marketing or believe.

One Google with thousand tentacles...

I'm a bit uncomfortable with how much DDG's marketing is focused on trashing their competition. They deliberately obfuscate privacy issues to strengthen their narrative. Sure duckduckgo is a good company right now, but that's only because they're small. I doubt they'll stay that way when they capture a significant market share.

> when they capture a significant market share.

but they haven't built a better mousetrap, and they're up against the greatest mousetrap ever known to mankind

Eh...Google even 5 years ago was 10x more useful to me than they are now. No exaggeration.

Even Search has become markedly less useful, a common story around here, to the point where even nonbubbled proxied Startpage.com searches are disappointing.

Maps becomes less reliable all the time from a user perspective (in my immediate region, to cover my ass I guess).

Chromecast and YouTube, in general and in conjunction, have become...bloated, buggy, user-tracking-first embarrassments of their original versions...don't get me started on Gmail.... if you're gonna take all my info, at least be good at your services. Especially the ones I pay for.

I remember there was a time when googling was so intelligent it seemed like it was going to become self aware! Dunno what happened along the way but the last few years it’s like a giantfairly sophisticated grep coupled with a bunch of sponsored links.

SEO happened.

All that tells me is that the problem space evolved and Google didn’t keep ahead of it. Same as what happened to Yahoo(!) before them ... my point was that Google was a very intelligent platform and now less so. Perhaps they just decided they could coast on the SEO ...

sometimes I feel that way, but a quick trip to DDG or Bing reminds me that while Google has felt regressive, they are still the kings of showing me what I want up front.

This is balloney. For a regular user google is 10x better than it ever was. Search intent, voice search, user based predictions. Get real. I understand quote searching for lines of code doesnt work like it used to but thats not where google makes money

As mostly a casual user of these products, can you speak to how search and maps have degraded?

Plus they could easily survive for decades fulfilling only the niche market who cares about privacy. They may never need to be the "big fish", which will involve compromising their users security, and therefore lose a lot of their value proposition.

Even having 1-5% of the search market is a pretty great business. Not everyone needs to be Google-scale to be a success.

Does anyone know if there's folks working to build a better mousetrap where search is a protocol that anyone could use, not a company service?

If you are thinking about decentralized search, it already exists in some P2P networks (ex: Kademlia)

However, it is nowhere as effective as commercial services. So much that the most effective way of finding pirate stuff is often to Google them despite all the copyright takedowns.

Why? That's the differentiator they chose to go for. You can argue that's it's dishonest, but i don't see the problem with the marketing.

Personally I find their writing mean... I do not love the super optimistic marketing lingo, but DDG sometimes sounds too vicious in their blog. (I still use them as main search engine, but I am not sure I would like them to go mainstream)

> Sure duckduckgo is a good company right now, but that's only because they're small.

Only because they are small? That seems to imply that if they ever get big, they’ll no doubt become evil, privacy-wise. Apple proves that does not have to be the case.

Apple’s main business is hardware, and software that helps sell the hardware. Any revenue from data is likely a seperate, minor stream; and for it to become a significant one, likely requires significant changes in Apple’s operations. Like any other hardware company, they don’t need google’s kind of data collection to make money.

But DDG is primarily funded by search, and the search business is funded by ads, which are more valuable based on targetting quality, which is improved by... data. About the unique user, specifically. For DDG to grow while maintaining search as it’s primary business, it’s difficult to imagine them not eventually (or at least, being heavily incentivized to) approach/mimic google-style of data collection — because data collection is their money maker.

Apple is unique amongst FAANG in being non-data-reliant, from the start; they never had strong incentives to turn to it, and took the opportunity to stand against it, improving their primary business without any immediate loss (they’re hit by opportunity cost for it, but otherwise).

Apple collects and uses data all the time. Their marketing kind of claims they don't, but their privacy policy is very clear that they do.

For example they continuously collect GPS position + list of WiFi APs from iPhone users to build their crowd-source'd wifi location database: "To provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. Where available, location-based services may use GPS, Bluetooth, and your IP Address, along with crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations, and other technologies to determine your devices’ approximate location."

They also state: "We also use personal information to help us create, develop, operate, deliver, and improve our products, services, content and advertising, and for loss prevention and anti-fraud purposes."

It's quite eye opening to compare how Apple's marketing describes their privacy policy vs. how Apple's legal describes it.

I've been seeing comments on HN praising how Apple respects users' privacy etc. Though I have a genuine question: how can we be so confident that Apple follows their claims while their software remain closed-source?

For client-side Google software like Android/Chromium at least we got to fork and remove the evil bits; we have built thriving communities based on that and everyone's got an alternative to Google. In the case of iOS/Safari do we trust Apple-provided binaries solely based on claimed policy / reputation?

Also, Apple sells the default search provider space on their OS to Google for ~9B/year.

So, does it really matter if Apple doesn't directly operate their advertising business and instead outsources it?

This says nothing about apple selling user data like google of facebook.

We should be more clear in distinguishing various levels of attacks to privacy.

Google doesn't sell user data either, though.

But Apple's privacy policy is very clear that they do share user data and they do use personal information for advertisement purposes: "Apple and its affiliates may share this personal information with each other and use it consistent with this Privacy Policy. They may also combine it with other information to provide and improve our products, services, content, and advertising."

Does Apple collect less data than Google? Almost certainly, Google is crazy good at it. But are they still collecting data and using it for targeted advertising? According to their own privacy policy YES, yes they are. Including tracking people on their websites: "Apple’s websites, online services, interactive applications, email messages, and advertisements may use "cookies" and other technologies such as pixel tags and web beacons. These technologies help us better understand user behavior, tell us which parts of our websites people have visited, and facilitate and measure the effectiveness of advertisements and web searches."

Seriously, just read Apple's privacy policy: https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

It really doesn't match their heavy privacy-first marketing push of late.

And for things like Siri it's hard to imagine that they aren't going to get increasingly creepy on the data collection aspect of things. It's sort of necessary to build out a "real" assistant. Asking things like "What time is my flight?", which is a useful feature, requires it to know when your flight is. Which you probably didn't manually tell it, because that's not very assistant-y, but instead it had to crawl your emails to find it. That ends up being creepy data collection. They could do it purely on-device, but then your homepod can't answer the same question, which breaks the magic. Unless they build some way for the homepod to ask all your other Apple devices. But if all your devices form a collective network that can share data about you between each other is it really "purely local" anymore? And what stops Apple from joining in on that mesh network whenever they want?

Perhaps research “Differential Privacy” to better understand what they are actually doing.

You are seemingly suggesting that they do Google-style data collection where data is attached to a specific user. It’s a disingenuous interpretation of their privacy policy (both the marketing version and the legal version.)


What should actually be eye opening is how Apple actually does protect privacy. They should be applauded and not condemned.

What part of handing over keys to iCloud to Chinese govt need to be applauded? The sooner people realize big corportations including Apple, Google will do things to generate profit, the better. Wallstreet, for better or worse, wont be kind if Tim Cook came in and said we decided to forego profit because differential privacy

Apple obeys the laws of the countries is operates in. Are you suggesting they should not?

On your second point, they Tim Cook has already said on their earnings calls that they could have monetized user data if they wanted to and chose not to. In fact they built Apple Maps at huge cost specifically so they would not have to give personal data to Google. They've been very clear about this.

> Apple obeys the laws of the countries is operates in. Are you suggesting they should not?

They can always choose not to operate in those countries. But they do, and accordingly making a conscious decision to endorse those laws in the name of profit.

According to that logic any Western tourist that visits Beijing and goes to Tiananmen Square, as I have, and doesn't wave about pro-democracy banners is 'making a conscious decision to endorse' Chinese censorship laws. So apparently I'm now a Communist shill?

Or are you saying that no foreign companies anywhere should do any business at all in China and no tourists should go there because doing so and obeying the laws is tantamount to taking personal responsibility for them?

By extension, I suppose this means that, by not breaking them, you are personally endorsing every law of the country in which you currently reside, or any countries you have or will ever visit?

1 corporations are not people. Analogies should only be made when there's an actual similarity point.

2 if you're making that point, there's still a difference between action and omission. Nobody would held you accountable if you don't actively try to topple a murderous regime, but if somehow it's laws require to participate in the stoning of a person, well, maybe you should grab a ticket to home instead of a stone, or at least is expected for you to weight the situation, not just shrug and quote: "well, it's the law".

Companies are made up of people, and the people are liable for any laws they violate while conducting the business of the company. Furthermore if companies aren't persons, do they therefore not have any of the obligations or responsibilities of a person, to obey the law, to answer to the courts, to be held to contracts or be the subject of law suits? The argument against corporate personhood is, frankly, utterly incoherent. Clearly they are entities which can have rights and obligations, many of which are similar to and derive from those of the people of which they are composed.

What Apple is doing is more like visiting a country and being told you either have to participate in stoning someone or pay a fine, and they are paying the fine. That's why they won't operate iCloud services in China, which will instead be run by a Chinese company which Apple will have to pay for the service.

Proper analogy is Western tourist coming to China, and filing reports about dissenting Chinese citizens. It's not about waving banners.

Apple built maps, because they couldn’t come to an agreement with google, something about turn by turn. The money exchanged with google probably played a part too

DDG’s “product” is a privacy centric search. Once they get big why would they throw their product away and become like the competition? That simply does not make any sense because the only reason why most people use them is the privacy aspect.

Good on Apple and DDG for realising that privacy has value and using that to grow their product.

Brin and Page pretty much say it's inevitable that a commerical search engine will succumb to "evil". The only solution they present is an academic/non-profit run search engine.

http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html (scroll down to "Appendix A: Advertising and Mixed Motives")

The owners of a commercial search engine say that it's inevitable that a commercial search engine will succumb to evil.


Not to put too fine a point on it, they once said that - the linked paper from Brin and Page was published in 1998, when they were still students.

Notably, though, just a few months before they launched as a commercial operation.

Sorry for the offtopic, but Im interested in natural Language constructs like this way of using Hmmm. after a sentence. First I thought it was something from the Portuguese speakers, after more thinking I see maybe it is common of French speakers. Or maybe is common in the U.S. too, I have been there only few times. I found it very funny, and somewhat familiar. :ps: The wonders of having a search engine at anyone's hand.

I think the linguistic term is "interjection". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interjection

So you're not going to apply the "if it's free, you're the product" logic for DDG as well?

Well, the obvious reason is that it may not be possible to get “big” as a search engine, without chipping away at the privacy gaurantees. Even if they get the users, can they sufficiently monetize them without turning into google?

Wouldn't DDG be able to monetize their search engine by simply showing ads relevant to your current search? They don't have to store your search history to do that, and you still get the same privacy.

I don’t disagree that DDG might turn evil. What I disagree with is the premise that they are not evil only because they are small.

Maybe we should start thinking about growth. All kind of bad decisions are taken in the name of growth. Maybe some companies could just provide a service, be profitable and grow just to a natural size not focusing on growth itself. That would require a new way of thinking the role of companies in human society.

This is incompatible with dominant funding models: private VC funding requires that the non-failures get exploited enough to make up for the failures. Publicly traded shares make it impossible to prevent shareholders who think that the company could grow to 10x from buying out those who think that it can or should only grow to x. Employee-owned coops will see their de-facto ruling bureaucrats seek to rule a bigger organisation, because that's the kind of personality who rises into those positions. The only funding model that has a chance to stay "happy-sized" (and where it's even possible that claims like "we care for our customers" are not lies) are owner-run bootstrapped shops and they often enough do stay that way. But for the same reason they hardly ever make it into the news.

Then perhaps we as a society need to engineer more diseconomies of scale.

Apple's Services revenue hit 10 billion per quarter in the last earnings report, and it's growing steadily. Yeah, it doesn't compare to hardware sales, but I don't think it can be called a minor insignificant stream any more, can it?

What does services actually consist of? From [1], it looks like the major components are the app store, iTunes/Music (purchases, I assume) and the iCloud? I'm not seeing the data dependency that would incentivize Apple to look to Google for advice, at least not in this category.

The closest might be recommendation systems, but afaik even Netflix only collects from its own information pools, and the main chunk of it is probably for their custom shows; Amazon definitely doesn't track that much data about their users, because their recommendation system might actually be useful if it did.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Apple_Inc._services

Sure, I am not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that Apple is making data services work as a revenue stream just fine, without the privacy invasion. Your comment read a little bit like it was implying that Apple's privacy stance is only realistic because they are not making money on services, and if they were making money on services, they would start invading privacy.

Here there is a big difference still, their services are a marketfront. This is a lot different from Youtube for example.

Also keeping an internal profile of registered user is very different from squeezing every cent of advertising out all available user data

Amazon I think tracks whatever it can. Whenever I visit a product, even if I didn't buy it the product (or something similar) will show up as "Continue shopping ...", and not very later as ads on my Facebook feed. It almost creeps me out (I use quite a few filters on uBlock), considering there is no visible facebook "Like" button on Amazon.

Not sure how it works, but whatever I see on Amazon shows up as ads on Facebook.

I believe apple has ridden the hardware train about as far as it goes. There's no money in laptops and desktops anymore. The latest android phones are good enough. The "apple store experience" has become a dystopian nightmare compared to almost any other form of shopping. Constant pressure to increase earnings will inevitably force them to move a larger and larger percentage of their business to data and start striping away privacy features.

A real concern for privacy has only ever existed in the open source world, and google and apple have effectively crushed that threat.

Apple has nearly 1 billion iOS users and 70 million MacOS users. If Apple had invested more heavily in their MacOS ecosystem, rather than letting products like the Mac Pro rot for half a decade, they may have eaten at the marketshare of their competitors.

As is, many of the Mac diehards I know have migrated their kids off the platform in the past year or two, and some have made the leap themselves. Its a sea of change from just a few years ago.

Oh please! Apple may not represent the same privacy clusterfuck that Google does, but that doesn't make them good. They still are absolutely abhorrent with regards to vendor lock-in and planned obsolescence.

So in response to “this company isn’t bad in this particular area” your argument is “Oh please! They may not be bad in that area, but what about all these unrelated areas where they are bad”?

I always hear so much about lock-in with Apple and using their platforms extensively alongside other ones I’m curious as to what examples people are actually thinking of.

My point is that right now, DDG too small to do any real harm to anyone. Their questionable word choice in announcements and blog posts signal to me that they're willing to take shortcuts to achieve their bottom line. If they grow big enough, these shortcuts will start actually hurting people.


> Apple proves that does not have to be the case.

By handing over all iCloud data of Chinese users to the Chinese government?

You surely must be jesting!

Oh gosh, a company in China follows Chinese law! The outrage!

Regardless what your view is, are you seriously suggesting companies should break the laws of the countries they operate in?

Before you say: “unjust laws, yes!” Consider what laws Chinese consider unjust, should they be allowed to break them within the US?

I would err on the side of: if you don’t agree with the values of a country then don’t offer your services. Capitalism, of course puts no value on values, so profit is the only ethical code a business should follow (logically).

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

A company decides to do business in China knowing that it means handing over all data on Chinese users to the Chinese government.

This company is:

1) Apple?

2) Google (project Dragonfly)?

That because Apple isn't primarily a Web or services company.

Any company who's business revolves around online ads will be tempted to invade your privacy.

See: http://peakads.org

Still, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll turn evil once (if) they are big, which the parent comment seems to imply with the word “only”.

>Apple proves that does not have to be the case.

Apple was part of the PRISM program.

Apple is a hardware company from the start, their strategy has been fixed long before other Internet companies figured the value of customer data.

Their narrative of being privacy enforcer aids their strategy of building closed systems.

I'm not telling Apple is deceiving its customers with the privacy narrative, but it isn't a guardian of privacy either; if it was it wouldn't have entered CHINA like other comments have pointed out.

Make no mistake, Apple is a multi-national megacorp just like Google and Microsoft, and is heavily influenced by shareholder sentiment. When push comes to shove, they will bow to political pressure, as exemplified by Tim Cook's praise for China's conference promoting "cyber-sovereignty" as "a digital economy for openness", and their ceding of China iCloud keys to China servers.

Apple does business in China. So not a good case for privacy.

Replace Google with Exxon and privacy with renewable energy, and you'll see why people aren't bothered by this slight against Google. Not all griping is equal. This isn't the same as putting another person down to lift yourself up, or putting another local small business down in order to lift yours up.

I don't pay attention to renewable energy marketing, but I don't think they attack Exxon as much as DDG attacks Google.

I think a closer analogy is health food companies advertising that misrepresents the benefits of organic foods.

I have never seen an organic food commericial. I haven't seen a fruit or vegetable commercial for years.

I have seen products over labelled like the low carb steak or the sugarfree water. These products were always low carb or sugarfree.

DDG attacking google tells us they are shooting for number 2. Attacking google provides free advertising. It also tells us if they get bigger they will double down on being different from google so the chance they will suddenly turn against privacy is unlikely. If it does happen funding is running out.

Yeah, but in this analogy your favorite renewable energy company just announced one of their products is now produced by Chevron. Which is not Exxon and therefore, ostensibly, a huge win for renewables.

You’ve reminded me of Apple’s adverts at the beginning of the 2nd coming - the Mac guy and the PC guy.

When you’re deeply in the underdog position I think that style is ok, but at a certain point it becomes a bit gross.

> Sure duckduckgo is a good company right now, but that's only because they're small

Is this opinion or fact?

As a DDG user I share your same skepticism. But I also believe that privacy will become a premium feature, even a symbol of status - similar to the iPhone/iMessage today. Poor people will buy devices that are subsidized with "targeted advertisements" and Facebook apps they can't uninstall. The premium market will pay to not deal with this nonsense.

> The premium market will pay to not deal with this nonsense.

And thus stand out for targeting purposes regardless.

Targeting works the more data you have. You could target “well off iOS user” but that’s less invasive than “searched topics of adoption and abortion. Recommend local abortion clinics”. Ya see what I’m getting at here?

If you have few enough users on a given platform, they tend to be identifiable by being so unique. If there's one user who logs in from Chrome in Incognito on an iPhone X via a VPN in North Korea, it's not too hard to fingerprint them, if you're looking for it if course...

Like when Google were little and their actual tagline was "Do No Evil".

The tag line was actually « Don’t be evil ». It was never an official motto afaik.

Well, they certainly can't compete on search quality.

“Certainly”? I doubt the deservedness of that certainty.

DDG satisfies most of my searches on the first go, and I’ve never had success with !g after a failed DDG query.

Furthermore, the Google results has a cluttered design with sparse information, so it takes much longer to figure out that I haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I’d say Google is the one failing to compete on search quality. At one point they did, but now Google’s consumer products compete on brand awareness and price, which they can only do because of their conquests in the advertising industry. Most people are not Google’s customer, they are part of Google’s enterprise product: the attention of people whose data profiles meet various requirements.

Yes, certainly. DDG very often have quite okay results while Google has almost always outstanding results. I have to use !g quite often when searching for a programming or architecture solutions that are just slightly more complex than mainstream. I am using DDG mostly because I trust in the cause. OK, I admit that bangs are nice. That being said, both our comments are just an opinions. I'd gladly see a research about their accuracy.

Remember that "Bing it on" campaign Microsoft ran, to show that in a blind test, users couldn't tell the difference between Bing search results and Google search results?

Well, Microsoft's test completely backfired on me. I ran the test many times. In most cases, one of the columns had clearly better results, and 80+% of the time, that column was Google.

Small sample size to be sure, but it covers 100% of the population I care about in choosing a search engine (me).

Granted, this was Bing, not Google, but I kind of doubt DDG would fare better. (And in non-blind tests, I definitely fell I'm getting the worst results from DDG).

In my experience the difference between Google and DDG results is that when Google has desired page as the first result, DDG will have it somewhere on the first page of results. Definitely not as good, but still very much comparable.

And I also pretty much never have to use !g. DDG results are sufficient most of the time, and when they are not, I notice Google usually also fails to provide satisfactory results.

I use ddg as my primary search. I haven’t counted but my gut says I do a second search on google ~40% or more.

I like ddg, i support them, but for any but the most basic queries google is a solid tier above.


When Google announced to their advertising customers that they were buying everyone's credit card data, that was my own personal bridge too far.

>Google has been able to track your location using Google Maps for a long time. Since 2014, it has used that information to provide advertisers with information on how often people visit their stores. But store visits aren’t purchases, so, as Google said in a blog post on its new service for marketers, it has partnered with “third parties” that give them access to 70 percent of all credit and debit card purchases.


Perhaps other search engines will reach this extreme level of creepy behavior in the future, but Google is there today.

That's a very misleading way of putting it. From your own article:

> In addition, Google does not know what products people bought.

Of course not. Whose credit card statement includes a listing of the individual items you purchased at a store during a particular transaction?

It's not in the statements that you received, it's a reciprocity agreement between retailers and CC companies to share the data by CC #

For example, CC companies could give you your itemized purchase history for Macy's on your statement, if they wanted to.

It is my understanding that most stores do not share that data, because they feel it is a significant commercial advantage.

Credit card companies have wanted itemized transactions for aaages (it's even part of the protocols they use) for fraud prevention, but very few merchants have agreed.

Not for SMBs, but major retailers share the information keyed of CC# as part of reciprocity agreements, including Amazon.

Whether it's true or not doesn't change anything to what the parent comment said.

Yeah, but so is about anything else. Google doesn't share that information, that's a huge principle of their company. Also, DDG is small, so it can be easily exploited.

yeah, but they wouldn't be switching from openstreetmap to apple maps if they cared about privacy.

The best kind of marketing is marketing based on universally known truth.

Or.. DDG is just a tool in a bigger war in the background. It feels like it can exist only because its benefactors allow it to exist.

It's independently profitable, though.

Because it's basically a reskin of Bing search. They say they index a handful of "sources" which are just individual websites, and also redundant because Bing also indexes them.

a reskin with better instant answers and !bangs. Both of those things give me an enormous value add, I could never bring myself to use DDG or Bing over Google if it was just about search results.

With Bing ads even (well actually Bing via Yahoo :))

Or Apple's marketing team lead to a donation to DDG to make it possible

That and from a purely data privacy angle, Apple is legitimately better than Google.

How so?

Apple shared all their iCloud user data (messages, pics, docs, etc.) and keys with the Chinese government last year. [1] Apple even updated their TOS forcing Chinese users to agree to it or drop service. [2]

Google got flak for just considering it with Dragonfly, but Apple actually did it.

[1] https://mashable.com/article/china-government-apple-icloud-d...

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-apple-icloud-insigh...

> Apple shared all their iCloud user data (messages, pics, docs, etc.) and keys with the Chinese government last year. [1]

They shared all their Chinese users' iCloud data. It's a huge distinction and I feel like you paraphrased it deliberately to try to make Apple appear to have sold out all of their users worldwide. While what they did in China is terrifying in general, it doesn't compromise security for any Apple user outside of China as you very strongly implied it did.

Here's the very first sentence from the link you posted (emphasis mine):

> A state-owned telecommunications company in China now stores the iCloud data for Apple’s China-based users.

Google's Dragonfly was the same thing - sharing "only" Chinese user data.

GPs comparison was privacy between the two companies, and one cares more about selling in China than the privacy of it's users.

You are using one instance - sharing Chinese users' data with the Chinese government - as the sole metric for judging a company's privacy policies. That's just as dishonest as the GP paraphrasing the link they cited to make it appear Apple did something they did not.

I'm not defending Apple WRT their data privacy practices in China; as I said it's terrifying and hopefully not a stepping stone. I was simply calling GP out for deliberately misrepresenting their own citation to make a false equivalence.

Sharing millions of users' personal data with a surveillance state notorious for civil rights violations is not a trivial matter, especially in any discussion involving privacy reputation.

If you think there are privacy issues that are more important than that then list them.

And again you are being dishonest. I never said it was a trivial matter, I said it was terrifying. I was calling out a deliberate attempt to falsely claim Apple was doing to all of its customers what they did to its customers in one country but you are trying to twist it into something completely different by putting words in my mouth. Shame on you.

And now that you've brought this discussion into ad hominem territory, it has lost any relevance to the actual topic at hand. Peace.

First they came for the Chinese, and I did not speak out— Because I was not Chinese.

Edit: Wikipedia link to original poem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_...

More like "First the Chinese government came, and I did not speak out, because they don't care about anyone other than the Chinese."

Challenging your assumptions: 1. Does China only care about Chinese? 2. If the Chinese government was first, who will be second?

The Chinese doesn't even care about the Chinese. Their care about the Communist Party. Everything else comes second.

This allows Apple to continue selling their hardware and software to people living in China (of which there are a lot). This is not a problem with Apple, but a problem with China.

This is constantly being misreported. No. They. Do. Not. Apple's data is kept on the device and so are the keys. If you enable that data to be put on the cloud (it's an opt-in) then they will also store the key, but otherwise they do not.

Yeah... except actually no.

iMeasage, the one be thing that really matters in this case, encrypts it's chats "end to end" but using keys managed centrally by Apple, regardless of your iCloud sync situation, and manages them in a way that can't inspected by users. If a decrypted copy of all your encrypted chats is being sent to a government sink, there is no way for you to know or prevent it.

China cares about being able to intercept and decrypt your communication, they want to be able to identify and punish political threats. That's a service that Apple CAN provide to the Chinese government for all iPhone customers.

I'm always curious how can people get so confident about Apple's security practices, given that none of the parts are open source? Is the trust solely reputation-based?

Boycotting of countries or not is one thing. Once in a country and following the law, Apple's business model is simply more conducive to privacy. Unlike Google, they are not reliant on the collection and analysis of data. On the contrary, like DDG, they use privacy as a differentiator and advantage. The only thing you can trust about companies is their business models.

If you just cherry pick actions and ignore things such as sharing millions of their users' data with a surveillance state, then sure, they seem privacy focused.

There is a huge difference between complying with a state’s requirements and relying on privacy violation for your business model.

Source? iMessage is E2E encrypted so no, Apple did not share that part (or other encrypted data like keychain). They’ve actually gone pretty far in protecting their E2E encryption from adversarial clouds.

Added sources. Apple moved the keys for accessing the data at rest to Chinese servers, which were nationalized by the Chinese government. The Chinese government has access to the users' data at rest and the keys to decrypt it.

I think you are misunderstanding. Apple moved Chinese iClouds to Chinese firms. So yes, Chinese iCloud users in China will be under the full surveillance of the government. Which they always have been. But that has no impact on anyone outside of China.

Dragonfly is a censored search engine, not a user data base.

The Chinese firms were nationalized by the government in July, giving full access. This isn't generic surveillance but complete ownership. First source listed in my original comment.

Dragonfly was complying with China's firewall, because clicking broken links in search results sucks, but it was also linking every search query to the users phone number and sharing with the Chinese government, which is what Google employees revolted over.

This does not affect E2E encrypted data like iMessage. Apple doesn’t have those keys to give.[1]

[1] https://www.apple.com/business/site/docs/iOS_Security_Guide....

But since key management is out of your control or visibility, Apple can just add another key to your account on behalf of the government. They don't have to disclose the existing keys on your device. This gets them the messages going forward but not the ones from the past. So they'd have to do this for all Chinese customers ahead of time, rather than as a response to an inquiry.

Anything's possible if the vendor secretly collaborates with a government to insert vulnerabilities and lies about it. But what we're talking about here is, given the way Apple has publicly declared how the system works[1], what can a government do with full server access.

Apple states "All of the user’s registered devices display an alert message when a new device, phone number, or email address is added." So no, it's not correct to say key management is out of your visibility.

[1] https://www.apple.com/business/site/docs/iOS_Security_Guide....

Your messages are stored on iCloud, right?

Yes but they are now E2E encrypted. Apple rolled out "Messages in iCloud" recently which preserves E2E encryption and excludes messages from regular (not E2E encrypted) iCloud backups.

Only if you enable this feature.

Its enabled by default. iCloud backups are automatically opted in since iOS 9.

Backing up messages to iCloud is not on by default. iPhone will ask you if you want to enable it.

Are they or do you just believe that because of what you think you know about the difference between the two companies?

Because Tim Cook, as a homosexual, has teared up when speaking about human rights abuses of homosexual under repressive regimes, and how as the CEO of apple, he will do anything within his power to ensure your data stays safe on apple infra / hw because he personally thinks about it. Can't remember the interview, but it was quite touching actually.

He's very clear in shareholder calls / letters and in their privacy policy. So much so that he even calls out the competition[1] for doing it as Apple does not. From an economics standpoint, Apple doesn't make money on your data. They sell you overpriced but quite sophisticated hardware and became one of the most valuable companies in the world doing this. That and he advocates for a US equivalent of the GPDR[2] which absolutely and directly would impact the bottom line of companies like Google and Facebook.

Then there is Apple's official privacy policy, where they are very explicit that they don't gather personal information to sell to advertisers. In much of the non-US world, saying that and not following that is blatantly illegal.

[1] http://time.com/5433499/tim-cook-apple-data-privacy/

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/24/18017842/tim-cook-data-p...

[3] https://www.apple.com/privacy/

> Because Tim Cook, as a homosexual, has teared up when speaking about human rights abuses of homosexual under repressive regimes

...but is also more than happy to meet and shake hands with the leaders of those repressive regimes? Like the UAE, which criminalizes sodomy and deports those who identify as LGBT?


Is it possible Apple, like Tim Cook, has the occasional double standard?

There's another way to look at it - Tim Cook has managed to get these leaders of repressive regimes to shake hands and do business with an openly gay man who is widely admired.

Tim Cook can only change what he has control over.

He can't change the government of the UAE.

He can change Apple's security and privacy priorities.

Right, shaking hands is literally an endorsement of everything the country does.

This must blow your mind: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fnyoobserv...

Shake hands or resign and let another person lead Apple.

Homosexuals don't have some special monopoly on honesty, nor are they immune to using emotional string pulling when they try to get you to believe what they are saying.

The reply would have been better without the first paragraph.

Regardless, Apple do collect lot of personal data. And even if they don't sell it or use it for marketing now, they could still potentially lose control of it, or change their policies down the road.

The safest approach from a privacy perspective is not to collect the data in the first place.

> Homosexuals don't have some special monopoly on honesty, nor are they immune to using emotional string pulling when they try to get you to believe what they are saying. The reply would have been better without the first paragraph.

I believe the point was that he was advocating for a cause which doesn't benefit him or directly affect him. I think it's a valid point: it's easy to fight for things that benefit you. It's like you'd be less skeptical if a rich person fights for higher taxes on the rich than when a poor person does.

I'm an attorney and have worked with several financial institutions drafting policies/statements/investor disclosures about privacy and user data. For most financial institutions user privacy is good for the bottom line but expensive so they tend to do the bare minimum. The bare minimum is not a lot but it's quite a bit more than nothing, which is what most non-medical/non-financial institutions have to do. I've never worked with a tech company on privacy matters but I would expect any company that depends on collecting and monetizing user data to be much more aggressive than the typical financial institution. That said, comparing Apple's privacy policies to those of a financial institution they are truly above and beyond any minimum regulatory standard.

I know most people don't pay them any attention but I'm really not sure you could find a more customer-focused privacy policy. I've yet to find one and I would guess I've read at least 10x as many privacy policies as the average person. Everything from what their disclosures say to how they've structured them to be easily read, easily understood, and (dare I say) engaging is indicative of just how much they prioritize user-privacy.

edit: meant non medical

Thought it was a bit funny, because 10*0=0, most people has probably never read a privacy policy.

Still, good point!

This is the same Tim Cook that praised a conference to promote China's "cyber-sovereignty" vision as "developing a a digital economy for openness". Don't forget that Apple is very good at marketing, and will change their message to fit the market.

"Homosexual" is not strictly offensive, but does mark you as potentially holding regressive views. It's easy enough to see from context that you're probably okay, but you can't always count on context.

You can just say gay.

-- Signed, The Gays

I just assumed it was the PC version, like African American. No offense meant

-- Signed, totally a friend of the Gays

we're getting super off topic here, but my understanding is that 'black' is actually becoming more PC and acceptable largely because many black people are neither African nor American

To those of us who are, it sounds excessively clinical, most of us dont like thinking of our sexuality in a clinical way. Also the poster is not wrong, talking about homosexuality, is cool and okay, calling someone a homosexual is often a language flag that they may be less than open minded.

This might all be true, but is there ever going to be a point where we assume positive intent? We shouldn’t be inferring deep-seeded psychological attributes in every day communication. It’s super likely that nothing at all was meant by using the clinical term.

I didnt see a lack of good faith in the discussion, it was more of a "hey, you might wanna know, that using that particular word associates you with this group you might not want association with" - which if anything is an assertion that requires good faith to make.

For sure, TIL! Thanks random hn gay person!

I can't reply to your other one because of HN max-thread rules, but yeah. My wife has a masters in social work, or as we like to joke, is a professional social justice warrior. Keep fighting the good fight.

Speaking on behalf of all gays? Even if you’re gay, I’d be pretty sure you’re mostly just capable of speaking for yourself. Either way it’s a bummer you were offended.

So how should he have said it?

Afaik Apple went above and beyond to make sure their original iPhone fingerprint sensor never leaked the fingerprint to any app or even the OS itself. Android always just did whatever with the print.

If that's the same philosophy now, Apple is definitely better than Google in terms of privacy.

Full disclosure: I own an Android device and no Apple product except an iPod from 2009 or so.

Is it really private though if it's all being collected, encryption and all, to be decrypted at a future date when the technology is available? All data on the net is captured by the NSA and stored at multiple data centers. One's in Utah. No company can really claim privacy if their product touches the internet since all of the pipes are tapped. It's all semantics. Maybe saying "we don't directly..." or "we don't make it easy..." would be more accurate. There is no privacy on the net, period. It's temporary privacy in the immediate present at best. 5 years from now? They might be able to decrypt everything from the last 10 years that they already have stored. It's guaranteed at some point. 6 years ago Snowden also revealed Apple was on board with the data collection. They are lying, and people don't care and go along with the show. https://appleinsider.com/articles/15/01/21/nsa-leaker-edward...

Except they don’t send it over the internet and it never leaves the device

My larger point was about all of the data, not biometrics specifically. Great, your fingerprint never left the device. Everything else does, which is probably way more personal data than just a fingerprint. Your fingerprint really does me no good unless I want to try to frame you for a crime, or want to get into your specific device or other thing that requires biometrics (maybe your work). Your data, I can make use of a lot of if I were criminally inclined. Your credit card numbers, your ssn, your investment accounts, your pics for making false ID's, passwords, or any other data that has ever flowed from your device. You'd have to be pretty sophisticated to be able to make use of someones fingerprints, while basically anyone could use your credit card number. Which is more valuable and larger vector for exploit?

None of the data you describe ever leaves the device unless you opt in to syncing it to iCloud (which is not on by default). The FaceID/Fingerprint never leaves the device and if you don't enable iCloud syncing of the other data off the device the data is unreachable with keys kept on the device.

Its reasonable to think things encrypted today with good methodologies are likely to remain secure forever.

NSA can't change the fundamental laws of the universe. While cryptology and mathematics is constantly advancing, there hasn't been a fundamental breakage of a block cipher in ages, nor has any evidence emerged to suggest the fundamentals of RSA will be broken.

Computing power alone isn't enough to break todays strong cryptography, and its certainly possible that the underlying math is a constant of the universe.

Edit: Not to mention the snowden leaks suggests that the NSA spends most of their effort subverting implementations rather than the fundamental mathematics.

Apple are primarily a hardware company. They make money on the sale of devices. They also make some money as a marketplace for apps and media. They have no significant revenue from data harvesting or advertising sales.

Google are an advertising company. The overwhelming majority of their revenue is from targeted advertising. Their ability to harvest user data is the primary factor affecting their bottom line.

For Apple, privacy is a no-brainer. It doesn't harm either of their primary revenue streams and it gives them a substantial point of differentiation against their main competitor. Apple have an ongoing commercial imperative to improve the privacy of their products and services; Google have an ongoing commercial imperative to the contrary.

They also make a lot of money in China where betraying their users privacy was required to enter. And that was almost the same week then their CEO, Tim Cook, told on camera that privacy is "fundamental human right". I guess he doesn't consider Chinese people human.

What would you have done?

How about withdrawl, like Google did?

I'm currently on my first iPhone. They spell out what they do with data in just about every app and setting. There's an almost annoying number of modals related to privacy and general control of data.

Maybe it's all for show, but they seem to take privacy seriously.

It's a fair question. For starters, comparing the business models, and how iOS implements privacy relevant aspects vs. how Android does so, might lead to reasonable assumptions.

It is in the best financial interests of Apple to protect user data. Mr. Cook has a fiduciary responsibility to do so.

Apple's business model is not selling your data for advertisements. They make their money the old-fashioned way - charging customers for their product (hardware).

If Apple could see a way to make money out of your data they would do it without blinking. The only reason they went with the privacy angle was that they failed when they tried to build their own ad network.

They failed with their ad network in part because they weren’t willing to share user data with advertisers. You’re conflating correlation and causation.

Why does the glass always have to be half empty? Maybe Apple simply was the better choice?

DDG's entire schtick was privacy and they are switching from open data + commercial sources to a commercial company.

Isn't Apple's map data based on OSM too?

A lot of it came from TomTom.

It is, at least in part.

Is a "commercial" company inconsistent with privacy?

Privacy aside, Apple maps, in my experience, are definitely worse than Google in terms of actually corresponding to reality. Apple Maps navigation also takes me on convoluted routes far more often than Google does.

My own experience ( North east US) has been somewhat different recently.

Yes routes from Apple maps, may appear longer or more convoluted at first glance. However after using it ( due to CarPlay) for a while on routes I had previously regularly done using google maps, I inferred a reasoning for that.

On the ~90 minute journey to my in-laws, the predicted journey time, is generally advertised as being quicker on google, but in practice the time difference is marginal.

What was different in my experience anyway, is that Apple maps seems to try to minimize left turns where appropriate. The benefit being a noticeably less stressful journey.

Has anyone else noticed this?

I can’t speak to left turns, but someone attempted a careful evaluation of the turn-by-turn options and Apple’s estimates were generally more conservative, leading to the conclusion that you point out, that Apple looked slower but wasn’t.

Is it though? A few months ago Apple Maps gave me wrong directions going from Custer State Park to Mt. Rushmore (two major tourist locations relatively near one another).

At least here in western Norway, Mapbox’s directions are incredibly buggy, to the point where they’ll send you on a 150-kilometre scenic drive (including two ferries) to avoid a tunnel instead of going 15 kilometres straight through the mountain. This is apparently because they’re rolling their own telemetrics-based data on top of the OSM road network.

Then again, Apple Maps (on DuckDuckGo) seems to think I that want my maps labelled in Indonesian, so you may still have a point.

To be fair, the glass is often full of gasoline.

Or a deal. Perhaps DDG will help Apple out as provider of search data of some kind (like WolframAlpha, or Yelp). Not sure what this could be that Apple can't do themselves though.

If Apple wants to focus more on services it makes sense to onboard people into using their APIs and challenging Google on this developer front too.

why would it be a "donation"? DDG isn't a charity.

How much do you think DDG will pay apple for this?

Is Google not a privacy threat?

They don't just believe Google is a privacy threat, they know it. We all do. You don't have to use weasel words when discussing a known quantity.

Whether or not Mapbox collects more data is an interesting question. My guess would be they do, by a lot.

If you look at their website, Mapbox is all about "live" location data, insights, etc. The days of them just being a provider of nice services built around (mostly) open data are probably over. They have a huge userbase and can leverage all that data to do powerful things.

CEO of Mapbox said at State of the Map US 2018 that they are continuously collecting lots of location data (which they use to improve the map). They do not believe this amounts to the collection of personal data.

I think an interesting question is how much of it is because of Apple starting to lean on privacy as a differentiator, rather than DuckDuckGo continuing to do so.

As a user, the deciding point is quality of google maps versus the reality of the claim of privacy with apple maps. I have a hard time believing that current users of duckduckgo completely escaped google's data collection over the decades and by choosing to use apple maps have dramatically reduced their privacy exposure with a measurable impact on their lives.

Is it just me or does the map-link go to yelp.com? Why are we even talking about Apple here when it's yelp getting the clicks?

This is terrible...

Apple Maps on iOS/macOS shows Yelp photos and reviews of places.

Yeah, but this is not iOS exclusive.

This is affecting everybody using DDG.

According to Mapbox Privacy Policy (https://www.mapbox.com/privacy/), they collect a lot of data, including: (a) IP address, (b) device and browser information, (c) operating system, (d) the content of the request, (e) the date and time of the request, and (f) limited location and usage data.

Good point. I like DuckDuckGo, but lately, their decisions make me wonder what's their direction.

The only way they promote themselves is only by comparing DuckDuckGo to Google

Apple needs it's own search engine. This is step 1.

What if they just bought DDG?

I expect most DDG users would stop using it. Apple may be the "least bad" of the big players when it comes to privacy, but I have no trust in them and no interest in using their services.

It would probably make a lot of sense for Apple though, and I'm sure they'd convince more Apple loyalists to switch to DDG from Google by putting their name on it.

Then Apple would have to give up the truckloads of money they get from Google for making them the default search engine on Safari.

Wow, I hope they buy DDG

At some point their place search was powered by Yelp.

The flip side with Mapbox is that they probably weren't collecting any less data either.

I wish they were explaining why they moved away from Mapbox and OSM in general!


I dont see why this was needed - it is a regression in terms of usability and performance (loading performance - cant comment on quality of the maps just yet, but I understand from others that the map data is woeful).

Really disappointed. I used to recommend DDG to everyone, but this feels like a sell-out - without any justification for why they've done it, my mind just leaps to conclusions about marketing and trying to get "cool points".

I strongly suspect this was not a sell-out. I suspect it was more a move to save a good deal of money. Mapbox is very expensive at DDG-scale, and given how lean and efficient they like to run things, I can easily understand this choice. The fact that Apple also cares (loudly) about privacy makes it even easier.

(I don't work for Apple and I run a competitor to Mapbox.)

They could have rolled out their own (privacy-focused) map service. The data is open, the stack is open as well.

And how much do the database server(s) cost, not to mention pushing map tiles out in terms of data costs. DDG isn't exactly flush with cash like google and apple are.

More or less as paying some service provider to do that for you, but they could have marketed it positively, as Qwant has done just last month (see https://www.qwant.com/maps/ which incidentally is open source as well)

If you're looking for privacy protection, Qwant's partnership with Huawei doesn't sound great https://e.huawei.com/us/publications/global/ict_insights/hw_...

Not much at all. In fact, since the tiles are only generated once, they could stick a CDN in front and never have to worry about anything but data transfer costs afterwards.

That CDN isn't free all the content and traffic overhead has costs, CDN charges you for each request, and every byte sent. On a small (under a million users a day) application it may not be that much... but even ten of millions of users a day, it costs a LOT

Hell, why do you think google invested so much time into image compression tech to save a few bytes here and there.

I doubt it’s much, the whole OSM infrastructure used to be handled as a favour by one of the London universities. I doubt DDG Maps is operating at significantly higher scale, especially once you take into account they just have to serve static data.

OSM data is constantly changing, being improved and expanded.

Do you think Apple sells their maps below cost, or that Apple is able (due to its scale?) to get significantly better deals than DDG could get?

Definitely a severe regression in the Netherlands. Apple Maps doesn't even show houses, and has only a fraction of the POI's OpenStreetMap has. It doesn't have directions for bicycles either — and it leaves out a bunch of dedicated cycleways in my area.

And the colours! All features seem to bleed into their low-contrast pastel neighbours.

This doesn't feel like a proper match for DuckDuckGo at all.

Someone mentioned Qwant Maps upthread, I think that’s what I’ll use instead.

Qwant Maps is OpenStreetMap data with custom styling that makes it look more like Google/Apple/Bing Maps.

It's very pastellish.

One of my reasons for not use DDG was maps, another big one is instant airline data on search query results (which isn't fair bc Google owns ITA). This upgrade to maps is awesome, IMO Mapbox felt like I was in the stone ages for map functionality and UI.

>I wish they were explaining why they moved away from Mapbox and OSM in general!

Because it sucks. Isn’t that obvious? There’s no point in having a feature that nobody uses. I switched to DDG a few months ago and this has always been the one weakness. This is really good news IMO. Apple maps has come a long long way since launch, and their data is about on par with Google at this point.

You can argue all day that of course it’s still a commercial company. But I’d rather compromise and hitch my wagon to the folks that are outwardly explicitly drawing out their commitment to privacy, whose incentives I understand and trust.

You're forgetting one detail that I think should be emphasized here: OSM is about free knowledge (as in freedom). You can use, modify and share OSM data however you want. Apple on the other hand is hoarding its information. You can only access it through their products in the ways they intended. They control everything (as always).

I do believe it when Apple says they're respecting their users' privacy, just like I believe it when DDG says that. But I am disappointed when I see how these companies neglect freedom and how so few of their users care about it.

It’s disappointing that DDG isn’t supporting an open infrastructure, but when you think about it their offering is in fact a closed infrastructure similar in principle to Apple’s. It is a closed product, but which promises to protect your privacy. That has value when choosing to use a service in the short term, but it’s not something to build on or to rely on in the long term, after all both companies could make any pivot they want if their incentives change in future. A better model would be contributing to a search engine which is open source, that cannot pivot without being forked.

Agreed, even though it's extremely unlikely companies like Apple or DuckDuckGo will pivot.

Another big argument for supporting free software solutions is to do it for the people who want/need freedom (like whistleblowers or activists).

> You can use, modify and share OSM data however you want.

You are still free to do that with OSM. Not sure what that has to do with DDG. Just because they don't want to use OSM, doesn't change any of your rights to using OSM.

> Apple on the other hand is hoarding its information.

You are free to requisition a fleet of mapping vehicles, drones and satellites and gather your own maps information and share it with whomever you want. If Apple is the one paying a ton of money to create their information, I'm not sure why it's surprising that they want to use that information in their products.

You don't have a right to Apple's mapping data any more than you have a right to Colonel Sanders's chicken recipe -- however, nothing is stopping you from making your own chicken recipe and sharing it with whomever you want. You could even start a community around sharing chicken recipes. That some people don't care about chicken recipe secrecy doesn't harm your rights to enjoy chicken with recipes created and shared by you or your friends. Some of us actually just want to buy some fried chicken and not worry about the provenance of the recipe. We have more important priorities (for us) than the openness of a private company's chicken preparation secrets. We just want good tasting chicken. Many of us aren't chicken enthusiasts, spending our time lamenting the secrecy of the Colonel's chicken choices.

What it really sounds like the source of your complaint is that if DDG doesn't continue to use OSM, then perhaps OSM will suffer for it. If that's the real origin of your disdain for this decision, then perhaps OSM isn't as valuable in the marketplace of ideas as people might think it is. However, if this actually doesn't affect OSM (I don't think it does,) then that means that DDG can use whatever they want and the OSM folks can happily share to their heart's content.

Apple has more than enough money. More than they'll ever need. It's actively employing strategies to avoid taxes. I think they can afford to do some public service from time to time, even if it means (in absolute numbers, massive) losses (if you don't count the value of having done something good for the people).

I'm not saying Apple does nothing for the open source scene. In fact, they're maintaining some important projects (like WebKit). But when you have billions of dollars that you don't know what to do with stored in some offshore haven, you could do a bit more.

Apple do support OSM. In one European country, Apple Maps actually uses OSM data solely.

Yeah and that's nice but I think they could do better (than developing their own proprietary maps)

In many places (e.g. many parts of Germany) Google and Apple maps are far inferior compared to OSM and Mapbox specifically.

I tried finding an address recently on Google Maps, and just couldn’t find it, only to discover that that street was added 4 years ago, so ofc Google (with data from 2011) didn’t have it. OSM had it.

Yes, OSM can give truly excellent results for certain areas. And truly awful results for others.

This applies to all of the mapping providers. It takes a truly massive ground game to get really good map data for the entire world. Many players are working on this and I'm sure many will continue to work on it. A map that was garbage for your area three months ago might be great today.

The same for Apple Maps, except any improvements that go there fall into another closed silo.

I’m also happy to see this move, but I tried to give Apple Maps another chance recently and it’s significantly behind Google. I didn’t even last a day. Especially if you’re trying to find things around your area, which is probably 99% of my usage.

No surprise the blog post highlights how easy to use this integration is...in Cupertino.

> Apple maps has come a long long way since launch, and their data is about on par with Google at this point.

Not in Portugal, or most places in Europe where I’ve tried it. They are so far behind it’s not even funny.

Or most of east Asia. It won’t even find what you’re looking for most of the time, let alone give sensible directions.

Well, the map quality depends on the region. So I could easily argue that OSM has much better quality than Google Maps, looking at Hamburg, Germany for example.

I know that the quality is not everywhere as good as there, but the quality varies for the other Map products too. So if it 'sucks' or the other thing 'sucks' greatly depends on where you currently are.

ive been using it for a few months now. its not as good as google maps but definitely doesn't suck. and certainly is better than apple maps.

>ive been using it for a few months now. its not as good as google maps but definitely doesn't suck. and certainly is better than apple maps.

I've also found the mapping aspects to be ok, but the search results are truly abysmal in comparison to Apple Maps. Point-to-point direction finding is of course a solved, commoditized technical problem this point. But the real special sauce is in combining that with real time traffic info and highly relevant local search results, which Apple does far better than any open source offering I've seen.

> Apple maps has come a long long way since launch, and their data is about on par with Google at this point.

Reporting from Washington, DC: nope.

> Apple maps has come a long long way since launch, and their data is about on par with Google at this point.

In California maybe.

Everywhere else? Not even close.

In my experience, Apple maps are on a par with Google Maps in London. Google never get my address location right, despite numerous reports to them. Apple does.

i'm in north Texas and into Oklahoma a lot, and Apple Maps has been fantastic here. I haven't had Google Maps installed on my iPhone in years.

I believe Apple at least augments their data with OSM data; however, I suspect the primary driver of this decision was price.

Edit: request are succeeding for me now.

Apple employee spoke at a recent OSM conference. Yes, they use OSM data as well. In some countries more than others. Apple also has a fulltime staff working on OSM. https://github.com/osmlab/appledata/issues, https://github.com/osmlab/appledata/

Apple can only use OSM data pre license change which is very old now, those links are to contributions Apple is making to OSM (similar to the big Microsoft contributions) which are probably there as a way of trying to prevent a Google monopoly, but not indications that Apple is using the data.

That’s not true. Apple is using and contributing current, ODbL-licensed OSM data.

How does that work? Do you mean using it behind the scenes? I thought ODbL prevented combinations unless the combined dataset could be released.

It's not as broad as "combinations". In many circumstances that doesn't apply. The OSMF website has guidelines on what needs to be released and what doesn't.

Living in Germany, I've found that OSM embeds in websites are more common for me now while browsing, and to be blunt: they're ugly.

The maps themselves are just difficult to visually parse, and unpleasant to look at compared to Google Maps and Apple Maps (which look comparably attractive at a glance). I dunno if that's solvable using a third party OSM service provider or not, but to me it seems like a good enough reason to switch.

Exactly. Reaching a critical mass of users is also about UI/UX and it's a bummer they seem to ignore that.

> I dunno if that's solvable using a third party OSM service provider or not,

Approximately everyone is using a third-party OSM service, since the OSM project does not provide map tiles for general use.

I also strongly disagree on your other criticism of the most common style, but that's a matter of taste. To me, they look more like a proper city map is supposed to look, and provide more detail that's useful for me to orient myself. If I were typically doing long car drives, I might prefer Google, but I don't.

As someone used to osm, you can show me my home town on Google maps and I won't recognize it anymore. There is so little detail on the map, it might as well be blank. Osm is fine, it's you who has only trained yourself in using Google maps.

No, OSM simply has bad UX.

Your anecdote is completely irrelevant, I'm not sure why you bothered to bring it up, since you're talking about data, while I'm talking about design.

If it was just me being too used to Google Maps, why don't I feel the same way about Apple Maps?

> No, OSM simply has bad UX.

It's not very convincing if I just argued the opposite and you don't bother giving a single counter argument. What's more is that it makes me feel there is no point talking about it if logical arguments don't convince you for no apparent reason.

> Your anecdote is completely irrelevant, I'm not sure why you bothered to bring it up, since you're talking about data, while I'm talking about design.

I am talking about design. If you zoom in on Google maps, the data is mostly there (osm also has more data, sure, but that's not universally true on the planet (though on average, per square kilometer, osm easily beats Google, but that's a blog post I'm saving for another day)). Google just hides all the data except a few random roads and random shops or something. You literally have to zoom in until your screen covers the area of two buildings before it shows you what's in the building. Somehow I'm supposed to have an overview of a city from the sparsely populated view. OSM (though you can have any style you like, I'm going for what I see most frequently) just dumps all the data it had on your screen at almost any zoom level (below province sized zoom) and you can see details like building outlines and shop icons from quite far up.

> If it was just me being too used to Google Maps, why don't I feel the same way about Apple Maps?

Maybe Apple maps is very similar to Google maps? If that holds, I should not be able to use apple maps (just like I can't use Google maps very well), but last time I tried to open it in a browser it told me to buy an apple device first so I can't compare. I don't know the answer to your question.

Probably because OSM didn't fulfill the promise it was created with?

Implementation of OSM stuff is horrible and usability as well. I LOVE free software and my privacy is very important to me - so I switched everything to self-hosted and encrypted solutions. Except maps. I still use google maps for a lot of navigating just because other solutions are really inconvenient to work with.

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