Even though I love the product and have been a fan of Google products for the longest time, their current strategy of monetizing everything they can is very off putting. The direction Chrome is taking is also concerning.
Don't know what really is going on at Google at the higher levels, but from an outsider's perspective is seems like they are aggressively trying to grow even more. Maybe to raise stock price? But to invest in what? Maybe to compete with Apple and Amazon? I can't be the only one who thinks it all seems odd - going from "don't be evil" to shutting down a massive number of projects with a lot of potential (e.g. Inbox, Fiber)...
Don't mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but looking at the bigger picture, it looks like Google's strategy is going through some changes and I'm not convinced this would play out well for them in the end.
I used to think of the Google brand very highly. Lately my subconscious associates it with the expectation of a sub-par user experience and some slightly creepy tendencies.
On an article related note, i wonder if/when this will affect waze
Of course, the only viable alternative at this point is Apple. That's the choice I made and I feel they've earned higher consumer trust... for the moment.
I really think that, with smartphone technological improvements flattening out and the oligopoly starting to squeeze their customer base, there's never been a better time for open smartphone projects to get a foothold.
I really can't stop using their search engine without making my life worse and yes I've tried DDG and bing etc.
I recently found my phone from 5 years ago and realized that at that time I implicitly trusted Google with everything.
It’s such a different perspective from today that it came as a bit of a shock.
the side effect of classification is not 100% positive
I with OSM would come out with a consumer-focused map product. I think that would go a long way towards attracting more contributors, since most people get started to scratch an itch in a product they use.
Most people don't realise that though, so they think their edits correcting roads will only get seen by a handful of open source geeks.
The UK ordnance survey is government run and is generally fantastic. They cover every inch of the UK in excruciating detail, provide centimeter precise GPS coordinates for everything and publish invaluable, cheap maps of it all. Why do you assume that the seemingly inept and corrupt US standard is the baseline that everything else will be?
Now though, I feel like the tech giants have overtaken them.
Where is the street view or 3d models? Where are the opening times of every shop? Where is the traffic congestion info? Where is the ability to look up a house number and find where on the street it is?
These are all things I regularly want to know and are location based, so really ought to be part of a mapping service.
That will probably never get done in a OSS manner at the scale of google, and even if it was serving it would probably be enormously expensive.
> 3d models
A lot of 3d models are in OSM, although not as detailed as in proprietary solutions.
> opening times of every shop
This is not something I want in the same database as the location data. The hope is that more sites/services use discovarable technologies lite microdata to make sure that it can be added to the map via separate databases.
> traffic congestion info
Again, real-time info is not really something I want in the same db as the actual street. traffic congestion info is a very different service than location or mapping info.
> look up a house number
This is part of the OSM offering, look into nominatim
Osm also takes data from governments and other organisations that publish it, but only if it's already available under a compatible free license. Not sure where you see that tie in with corruption (which additionally is much more frequent in the private sector but maybe that depends on your country, but since there are no big bucks flowing in and all financial records are public and are plausible for what they do (I looked through it), the point is moot anyway).
I'll go for OSC for future projects. Thanks for sharing.
I actually want the ads too although I want them 100x better than they are and I'm sure Google like Amazon will fail for a while at curating the fake stuff. In an ideal world they'd have inventory and menus of every store so I could search for "pizza with avocados open now" or "1/4inch wrench" and it could tell me exactly where I can get them right now.
Answering queries like that has so much revenue potential. Possibly even more than the rest of Google put together. You bet they're trying to get there and have been for years. The reality is it's super hard to collect that data.
They've tried getting shops to upload info about what they sell (the Google Shopping manifest files). They've tried putting Bluetooth trackers in every store (they mailed them out to all big businesses in 2014 and said 'stick one of these in every department of your shop') to track who goes there to know what store might have what products. They've tried putting their own staff in the stores (Google Shopping Express, and the Chromebox staff in electronics stores).
None of it has worked, but they'll keep trying.
However, that content is done by volunteers just like you, and if you refuse to contribute because something puts you off, then the project dies. Imagine people with the same mindset as you: Oh, I don't bother contributing my design skills because the content sucks. And you don't contribute because design sucks. In the end, no one contributes and the project, as a whole, suffers.
But if the project suffers, you and everyone else, lose to corporate offerings like Google. And that is fine, if you like that. But don't expect them to respect you. I hate to say this, but change has to come from within, not from laws, market forces or anything else.
So, if you want LIBRE maps, and you really care about that, just go on and do it. Gather people, make noise and work hard. There's thousands of highly successful projects to get inspired by.
In what way aren't they bold enough? Their license is too restrictive for many commercial uses, driving big businesses (apple, Google, Microsoft) and their users away.
They don't use crowdsourced data. You're never going to be able to build real-time traffic maps by manual means.. They need to make a platform to anonymously share user data so other volunteers can write automated code to turn it into real-time map features.
Likewise, they might not have the resources for street view, but I bet a few million people submitting their photo library would get a photograph of a substantial number of buildings... Then it's just about code to sort, classify, tag, and arrange the images to be useful.
OSM already impacts the lives of millions of people. Indeed, it genuinely saves lives through its humanitarian work, and has been doing so since the Haiti earthquake.
What you appear to be saying is that it doesn’t provide motorist-centric features like “real-time traffic maps”. As someone who thinks the world would be a whole bunch better if there were fewer cars, I’m good with that.
OpenStreetMap is not trying to make this specific product.
But when you have been offering something for free for years, people get used to that being the way of things, users are not going to respond well to the increase in advertisement.
Had Google done this from the beginning, people would have been more accepting of it. Generally speaking, if you change a service for the worse, people are generally going to view it less favourably than had it started out how it will now become.
I do find that the service is becoming more and more unusable with all the shitty product placements.
For much of the world, OpenStreetMap data is considerably more complete than Google Maps. It is true that there is no website based on OSM that is as convenient as maps.google.com, but more and more people are using maps on mobile, where they are relying on apps and not a website, and OSM-based solutions like Maps.Me are good substitutes for Google’s ecosystem.
This is particularly true for many not-so-obscure niches, like hiking trails in and around major US cities. Once you stray from roads and business locations, Google Maps gets shockingly sparse.
Compare coverage for this park in Seattle:
Open Street Map: https://0x0.st/zqAH.png
Google Maps: https://0x0.st/zqAo.png
Google Maps is bare bones, while OpenStreetMap has tons of detail, even including locations for drinking water and park benches! Drinking water in particular is a great feature. You can't see that drinking fountain on Google Maps from either the satellite imagery or the street view imagery, but I can personally attest to it being there, right where OSM says it is.
The official and unofficial transport apps don't tell you the bus will be at platform 16 on a completely different street. Made me miss the bus more than once, the second time I planned time for it but it took me 20 minutes to find the stop. I assumed it was one of the first fourteen stop positions and I just overlooked it, went around again (inside, on the street, other side of the street...), still didn't find it, until I checked OpenStreetMap which just shows it on a map and gives the exact stop position instead of only the stop name.
The latest version of OsmAnd can even do public transport routing. It won't give you timetables that are subject to too frequent changes, but it's still impressive.
And Garmin units have had natural directions like that for four or five years. But I find it more of a hindrance than anything. I would rather hear "Turn right onto Wellington St" than "Turn right at the Starbucks", especially because the Starbucks is not always obvious.
But more importantly, I prefer a dedicated device because it's way more convenient. It's always there, it doesn't kill my battery, it doesn't rack up roaming fees when I cross the border, it has a large screen that's easy to see, it has super useful features like "Up ahead" that shows where the next rest stop, service centre, etc. is, and it leaves my phone free for audiobook duties.
My Garmin has been nearly 100% reliable because it never moves and automatically comes on with the ignition. Google Maps is at best 20% reliable because it's not there when I need it.
 Yes, google Maps can download maps to work offline, but they constantly expire, leaving me high and dry when I actually need them, and I don't want to download half the continental US just for a road trip. Oh, and POI search is gimped when offline.
 My phone does not have a large screen, and Google Maps' map is incredibly difficult to decipher when driving because of super thin low-contrast lines, tiny labels, and a non-zoomable display (when in driving mode).
If flawlessly defined sending one to the closed street and putting one into a two hour long traffic jam because it has no real time data feed, then sure maybe it is flawless. But this is 2019 and not 2009.
Furthermore, it does have a data feed for traffic, through FM radio (using the power cable as an antenna) and/or a Bluetooth connection to a phone. It's not as good as google Maps' traffic updates and it's only for major roads, but it works pretty well.
I was also impressed with the decades long growth of advertising on TV.
Google's business was to answer query. The rest was philanthropy. If they start to operate like any other crap stock they'll go the way of the loo.
Also, this looks like it's about web sites that carry Google ads (and only those sites that have decided to participate -- none of which look to be sites I use anyway), not Google's own services.
Have you heard of a "loss leader"?
Users are unlikely to use Google for maps and say, Bing for their searches. Maps drives traffic to search. Conversely, making maps overly commercial will drive traffic away from search.
I don't know, I see very little tying the two together. I currently use DDG exclusively for search except for localized searching and maps, for which I use Google. There isn't really much friction to switch between the two. Especially since most of my map usage is on mobile, where it is a separate app.
So you're way out in the long tail.
I would argue that maps is probably already monetized, as it probably improves ad targeting in all of their other apps.
You mean, I can buy a subscription and not rent the service with my search history ?
Where's the sign-up button ?
They all have different monetization strategies, and all provide good enough turn by turn directions. I regularly use Here WeGo for its offline support. Sygic is probably still fine.
I think Sygic moved to a freemium model, and I get the impression Here is subsidized by luxury car manufacturers.
Yelp crushes google maps on search.
I really don’t understand why google maps is so popular. Like search, maps is a capital intensive, commodity product with near-zero switching cost. I guess the same can be said of Coke and Pepsi, and they’re chugging along just fine. It’s a good thing I don’t work in brand management!
Not even in the same ball park. Yelp's search for example does not understand that there's a RIVER between Brooklyn and Manhattan. So when I'm in Greenpoint it says there's something right there, in Manhattan when I want something local.
And for newer people, bundling is hugely impactful. Doing nothing is almost always the most popular choice
> I really don’t understand why google maps is so popular.
Because it's bundled on billions of devices ? And it's a product that was/is working really well for the vast majority ?
The point of this is that the direction Google has been taking lately has been very much the arbitrary choice and direction chosen by Larry and Sergey, and consequently highly reflective of their own personal ideologies and worldviews.
I was developing with ESRI ArcGIS at the time, ESRI was a multi-billion dollar GEO company who had no product that even came close to the instant utility Google Maps launched with.
The only other product that had a similar "Wow" factor around the same time was Keyhole which we were using before Google acquired them and used it to launch "Google Earth".
If anything Google Maps spawned competition in the last decade, the existing competitors like ESRI are still developing their GEO products for Internal/Enterprise use, but now there are a number of competing consumer mapping services that provide the same utility and functionality of Google Maps from large technology companies that didn't have GEO as part of their competency like: Apple Maps, Bing Maps and Tencent Maps.
There were multiple competing products when Google Maps was released, so they had competition. Google's product was simply better at than most alternatives at the time.
Feel free to believe Google Maps had competition (they didn't), nothing else at the time provided the same instant utility of Google Maps which basically ushered in the new category of "real-time search-based Consumer Maps" of which there are plenty now.
Anything that existed previously would've needed a rewrite to achieve the same instant utility of Google Maps. Nothing without it could've become mainstream. The competition like ESRI still doesn't have it, but they're still focused on Internal/Enterprise Usage, they let you build GEO Maps but they don't let you build consumer maps that compete with Google Maps.
You're agreeing with me here by admitting that there was existing competition. The rest of your remarks are about how much better Google's offering was to the competition, which is a point I've already agreed with.
There were existing GEO companies that provided Mapping Services (I was developing GEO Apps with one of them at the time), but there was nothing like the consumer focused Google's Maps preceding it, with its worldwide pre-rendered imagery at multiple zoom-levels coupled with a global search that displayed annotated Markup results delivered over an Ajax Web interface that allowed seamless panning/zooming of the Earth scaled to millions of users.
It wasn't a fluke that Google Maps gained instant popularity with mainstream Internet users over everything else, there was nothing else like it.
If by "DB search" you mean the old-school engines like Lycos, etc., then yes, it is like saying that. And yes, I think those did count as existing competition for Google search.
I suspect that we mean different things by "competition" here...
Mapquest back then had the clunky “click the big arrow” to move the map and reload the page navigation...
Was a real eye-opener of "so that's how you make Maps fast" at the time, just pre-render the entire world at multiple static zoom levels. Which wasn't an option (disk cost) for anyone developing their own in-house mapping Services at the time. For my next GEO project I did the next best thing and used their Google Maps API to change it to make map tile requests to our ArcGIS App which dynamically cached map tiles on the fly, so whilst it didn't pre-render all tiles, it provided a nice "Google Maps"-like UX for popular areas of our region.
And then the data wasn't there for years and years also. And Google has lots more POI data in much of the world.
(I say this as a contributor to OSM...)
The shouldn't. They should be forced to close, and Maps and Search should be provided by a non-profit, internationally controlled (UN etc), organization, not a for-profit company.
That's my opinion of what would be best. Some services (like "indexing the world's knowledge") are too important to be left to private interests and be monetized via ads...
The only solution is more competition, not less. Trying to limit who can do what has only ever led to worse outcomes. There's nothing stopping a non-profit group from creating maps today if they wanted to.
The idea that a non-profit could compete in the current economic and cultural climate is laughable. Some social change is required, and government for all its flaws is the logical place for such change to actually gain some teeth.
The free market is exactly what allows anyone to compete, and Apple and Microsoft already do so, along with dozens of industrial providers.
I don't believe "authoritarian" applies to companies. If anything corporatism is authoritarian.
If there are valid regulations to follow then sure but that's not what the parent comment seems to be suggesting.
There's no "free-market capitalist society". Just a really-existing capitalist society (like "really-existing socialism" which touted one set of values, but practiced another), that sells to people the lie that markets are (and can be) free, when they aren't in most ways that matters.
None of that has to do with Google being "forced to close" its Maps just because you don't like ads.
Except if you think e.g. forbidding them from using child labor or from not hiring women/blacks etc. are authoritarian too, then you already agree that a society can impose some laws (onto companies), and them to not be authoritarian.
If you agree to the above, then now the main difference is that you think the above examples are "fair" and "ok", whereas the other proposal is not. But that's a matter of opinion, not some objective truth.
The only power they (we) have to enforce such policies is to stick a gun in someone's back. It's true that some matters call for the initiation of violence to maintain a greater societal good. You've cited some worthwhile examples but this isn't one of them.
Our Constitution lies somewhere in the middle between opinion and objective truth. It carries more weight than the former (those guns again) and less than the latter. It arguably doesn't provide the legal tools needed to force Internet search engines and map providers to work on a nonprofit basis.
There are other countries whose founding documents don't include similar constraints. Fortunately, nobody will shoot you for trying to leave this one.
> There's nothing stopping a non-profit group from creating maps today if they wanted to.
Apple and Google probably feel very differently. We've already seen them fight it out, wait till they join together to start keeping their boots on the up and comers.
In the end I don't give a rat's ass about their profit line and I put advancement of Earth and its people as my top priority.
>> I put advancement of Earth and its people as my top priority.
Great. Are you working on a mapping service?
> Great. Are you working on a mapping service?
That's fallacious. I don't have a giant pile of money sitting around. But I support initiatives like OpenStreetMap even if I see room for improvement.
I'm not sure who you're arguing with because we all want more options, and we already have several from Apple, Microsoft and others. I definitely don't want my taxes being spent on another poorly executed govt project though.
>> I don't have a giant pile of money sitting around.
Maybe you should care about profit then because that's why Google Maps exists.
But I don't want ads in my map software any more than I want ads in my travel atlases.
As maps go, its pretty nice - much more reminiscent of printed maps. But, its of no use for more practical tasks like providing directions, or finding restaurants.
In fact, before the web era, they also made the best maps (e.g. the British military maps).
Government vs private is not mutually exclusive. Like another commenter said, the US Geological Survey already has mapping data available. Adding in traffic from local agencies and weather from the National Weather Service is relatively simple so we can definitely have a neutral public maps service. None of that requires forcing Google Maps to close though.
"You are passing a rare gem, take exit 20..."
Well, it was a rare gem, until exploited for a buck. No way I want to go now. All sorts of ugly can happen here.
Maps data had presumably been doing the latter behind the scenes. Now it appears to also be doing the former.
Would you be ok with them using the data to improve their targeting models as long as they didn't include the placements in the Maps experience itself?
There was a day when I would have been OK with that, but for me, those days are long gone. I would not be OK with that now.
> Google is no longer a technology company, and [...] it's basically [...] a search engine. The search technology was developed a decade ago, it's a bet that [...] no one else will come up with a better search technology so you invest in Google because you're betting against technological innovation in search, and it's like [...] a bank that generates enormous cash flows every year but you can't issue a dividend because the day you take that 30 billion and send it back to people you're admitting that you're no longer a technology company.
Still relevant today.
it's interesting to note that google is tacitly admitting that their tentacular data ingestion products (like maps) and their vast machine-learning infrastructure by themselves can't generate the value they're expecting, so they're resorting to direct monetization. otherwise they wouldn't take another PR hit like this.
Maybe now that they changed OpenAI from a non-profit, to what they dub a new type of legal entity: a non-profit that pays out “profits” to investors - and they further claim this will be the most valuable company in history by orders of magnitude - maybe they want to milk google users which they can write off by investing in the non-profit they control effectively own (even though legally non profits don’t have owners).
What Google seems to miss is how this will affect customers' receptiveness to other Google products in the long-term. Having pulled the rug from under us once, there's no way we could consider e.g. a migration to Cloud in case the same happened again (where moving to a different provider would be far more painful).
A 280% increase in pricing after you've gained dominance in market share is a tough pill to swallow and left a really bad taste in developer's mouths.
I too have moved on to Mapbox, and I suspect the OSM group was thrilled at the changes since now their mapping efforts probably increased tremendously. We're probably going to roll our own map tile servers based on OSM since Mapbox as well is pricey, but not Google Maps pricey.
 Compare https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/w/index.php?title=Mapbox&diff... to the current list: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mapbox#Mapbox_Data_Team
Pretty genius really from a company/marketing perspective and equally an approach that only a company the scale of Google with the pockets, could pull off. They effectively rope in lots of developers, then flip the switch on them, knowing some will jump, but equally most will hang in there for various reasons. They are now looking at tapping into the other end of the pie with customer subscriptions.
The upshot and what you end up paying for is the ability to get real support - least that is the vertues many a Google 1, user are trumpeting.
But the real upshot is moves like this will only fuel development of alternative offerings and more so, boost existing alternative offerings.
As with most things beyond death and taxes, there is some sort of choice. It is surprising how many companies in various forms count on consumers not exercising those choices.
I can't say this strongly enough:
Google APIs and platforms are for building toy weekend projects. DO NOT use them for your business.
When Amazon and MSFT have decent products and massive reliability, why even try switching to unreliable Google, irrespective of their technical superiority.
I'd be happy to pay them a reasonable price, but this costs more than our whole infrastructure, so we are moving to a vendor who offers a more realistic pricing for us.
Trouble is that there is no other service available with as comprehensive of coverage across the globe and so many languages as Google's, so we're just dealing with the hit.
Meanwhile in Google HQ, someone wins a bet over in which house this cookie deleting nerd using Linux on turns out to live in.
If we can please stop it, or at least opt out ("click here not to share your address details with Google") and turn the input box into a dumb textarea, that'd be great. Should save you money, too.
A little investigation revealed that the culprit was Google Maps. I uninstalled it at that point and never looked back.
The revelation was that Google Maps was no longer just being used to collect data, but was being used to actively push ads outside of Maps itself. That was a bridge too far for me.
In the time since, I have rid my device of all Google applications, as Google's overall model is not something I can tolerate any more.
Oh wait, oh wait! They do that and then you get an INSTANT E-COUPON for wherever they drove you through. You'll be driving to nowhere just for the chance to be given amazing discounts en-route!
(open to placing bets on how they will inevitably, literally do this. I want royalties, you bastards :D )
Your route home will be determined by the highest bidders, so you’ll have no choice but to go past that particular McDonald’s, the in-cabin screens displaying personalised, location-based messages all the while.
There's a fork on F-Droid just called Maps, which removes all those trackers and works really well. 
Unfortunately there's currently an issue with downloading the maps data, which makes the app currently unusable without manual workarounds. 
The other option would be OSMAnd, which is a great app but maybe not quite as user-friendly as maps.me/maps when initally getting started with it.
For those other apps, they leak the tracking to 3rd party services. That's what those trackers are.
I can navigate to nearby bars or shops that it knows about, but if I want to navigate home, what do I do? Searching for an address just returns "no results found" instantly.
Android is leaking your location on purpose...
Indeed, but it's possible to stop that. What I meant by "leaking" was that something was getting through despite my efforts to stop it.
Fortunately, the list of possible culprits was small, as I knew what I was allowing access to the internet and what I was not.
I generally prefer Google’s services to Apple’s but there might be a tipping point soon where I’m willing to sacrifice some features in exchange for a generally less creepy product.
I’d read maybe a year or two ago that Apple was working on improving maps in other countries, but that effort was projected to be done or getting done by 2020 or 2021. Still a long way to go, but Apple isn’t ignoring it, like it used to seem a few years ago.
I would think that Google execs are looking at Apple’s new push for integrated services and that they will compete hard.
I am a happy customer of both Apple and Google but if Apple continues to come through with quality integrated services, I can see myself just living in Apple’s ‘walled garden’ in the future if they also keep supporting privacy.
Most Youtube users dont pay yet Google has to pay bandwidth costs for those free users.
Unfortunately I can't argue with you and the other posters, in that it doesn't matter what they charge. If it's not seen as a positive career move to work on a given product at Google, its future is always going to be iffy. And Google is an advertising company at the end of the day, not a video streaming company.
And it's certainly true that the more someone is willing to pay to avoid ads, the more valuable to advertisers that person's attention is going to be.
It's 202X, and you are offered AR glasses from Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Disney, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. With almost-always-on mics, 180-degree cameras, gaze tracking, centimeter-resolution indoor position, and hybrid local/cloud infrastructure.
Who do you trust?
What is the net present value of that trust?
Apple users may be willing to pay for apps, Android users don't swing that way.
I wonder how well such an approach would do. I know that it wouldn't interest me, as I don't want the "premium features" you mention, I'd just want maps. Others might only want the news and not the other stuff, etc.
But I don't know how many people are like me.
But the question is - if you could get 'a pretty much iPhone' in your $200 Android for a couple of bucks a month, why would you ever buy an actual iPhone for $1000?
- Unified and consistent UI (subjective but I like it).
- No ads or privacy threats in general unless you try really hard to make them work on your iDevice.
- Guaranteed OS updates for 5+ years.
I'm probably forgetting some more.
An "iPhone experience" on an Android won't be even close to an iPhone. It could be used as a tease to prompt people to switch to an iPhone, though.
I'm a Red/Premium subscriber, I love downloading my videos to my phone and, of course, no ads. What makes you say that it doesn't work?
YouTube Red isn't a good example. It seems to work just fine. Google is famous for being willing to cut loose efforts that don't work, and they haven't stopped YouTube Red -- they only rebranded it.
juvenile take, didnt realize people still went with the apple logo meme argument
Grovelled all over the internet trying to work out if there was a legitimate way to unlock the thing. Lots of probably scams out there but nothing plausible.
Turns out there was: in her papers, there was her account information, and I could log onto her AppleID and release the phone the way she would have if she'd known what was going to happen to her (she passed unexpectedly, with no real warning). Without that, I would have inherited a brick, and I'm not sure even the government would have been able to get in. From all accounts, if you try and plead with Apple you get nowhere.
I've got personal info on my iPhone, now that I unlocked it and installed my own identity on it.
I'm quite happy to continue using iPhones. If it costs more to have them monetized the old fashioned way, by charging me vast sums to get the device, that seems fair. It seems the alternative is to try to monetize ME in any way possible, and I don't trust any of these megacorporations too much.
In fact, arguably better, since it has a headphone port ;)
... and they share this data with the police and then some innocent people get entangled in this mess.
I recommend spending a little time searching the web and Google's Android developer pages for more, but here's a Quartz article that gives a decent overview: https://qz.com/1131515/google-collects-android-users-locatio...
If you're interested in being able to find your location under the most possible circumstances, you can't rely just on GPS because there are so many situations where GPS won't work.
Here's the disclaimer from my phone: "Location may use sources like GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and sensors to help estimate your device's location. Google may collection location data periodically and use this data in an anonymous way to improve location accuracy and location-based services."
They have had similar-worded ones for a while now.
IIRC basically if the phone has GPS enabled it'll upload the list of visible APs from that location, so they can use that as an estimate for when a phone without GPS is nearby.
I'm not claiming Google does this, I'm claiming this is very trivial. Of course it will be probabilistic so you can claim something with 95% chance of being true. That's good enough for advertising purposes or just to be put in a box called 'likely to have a one night stand'.
Ouch. How could that possibly be worth it? Are they just trying to squeeze money out of businesses that are already locked into the Maps API? It seems hard to believe that your average startup that needs a map widget (like, for food or pharmacy delivery) would go with Maps instead of OpenStreetMap at that price level.
Just last month I found myself in need of a source of map data for a personal use application and thought of OpenStreetMap which led me to looking up my home address. Unfortunately I couldn't find my address by searching, so I zoomed in on my neighborhood. About 50% of the street names in my neighborhood were incorrect, so I spent time correcting them. The last time I had visited OpenStreetMap was about 4 years prior. On that visit about 1/3rd of the streets in my then neighborhood didn't appear.
That entirely depends on where you are. In the US, there are lots of places where OSM is fully equal to Google Maps. There are other places where it's just downright bad.
If you're in one of the places where OSM maps are good, then they're the way to go. If you're not, and you're not willing to contribute the data required to improve them, then you probably want a different solution.
If it's not routing me 25+ miles further to save "1 minute" (really a multi-minute slowdown in the 90th percentile) then its failing to give comprehensible directions in order to interpose business names.
Maybe the monetization is finally makes competing with it attractive enough.
This coming change to their monetization (really? mining our location data isn't enough?) is just going to be the final impetus I need to find some other solution.
The list of features it doesn't support is exactly the same list of things I don't care about. Nice! I just installed, and it seems to be a minimal app using a chrome wrapper. So it's basically a webpage... I will have to see how its navigation works.
The only fix is to remove all updates and revert to the original version of the app, and the UI experience is so much better. I'd forgotten how fast it was. I might just keep it like this.
I usually switch between Google Maps and Waze depending on where I'm going and how soon I want to get there. Google Maps if I'm in no hurry and want to take the "normal" way. Waze for if I'm trying to get there sooner (speed trap alerts and shortcuts help) and I'm either somewhat familar with the route or don't care about the stupid shortcuts. Waze has had me cut through neighborhoods and drive down gravel access roads to shave minutes off the travel time. Most of the time it pays off, sometimes you just end up wasting more time at intersections
What kind of incomprehensible directions and business names are you referring to?
Anecdotes != data, but I'm pretty sure I've experienced this with Google Maps as well.
Except Garmin - having been decimated by Google and Apple maps - is getting pretty bad too. I've been using them for >15 years with multiple devices and every update lately seems to make their routing worse AND for some unfathomable reason makes the GPS reception less reliable (if I were a sceptic I'd suggest they are trying to force you to go for a new model via slowly crippling the device with every update).