Google Maps braces for more competition as Linux partners with Microsoft, Meta, and others
What you need to know
- The Linux Foundation enlisted the help of Meta, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and TomTom for its new map project.
- Linux created the Overture Maps Foundation with the goal of creating relevant maps and geolocation for developers without being too expensive.
- This is all in an effort to potentially release the grip that Google Maps has on the industry as it has constantly worked to improve its GPS technology and other features.
- Overture is expected to release its first datasets during the first half of 2023.
The beacon was lit, and several major tech companies helped Linux dethrone Google Maps.
The Linux Foundation, a non-profit company, has announced the launch of its own open source program called the Overture Maps Foundation (via Gizmodo). This new project puts its efforts into compiling and collecting map data from around the world using various data sources. Overture’s mission is stated as one that “can enable current and next-generation map products by creating reliable, easy-to-use and interoperable open map data.”
Meta, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and geolocation company TomTom are coming to help Linux with these new efforts. Linux is trying to give everyone an equal chance with this map-based project for developers who want to create current maps and geolocation services without being too expensive in its efforts to topple Google Maps.
“Mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no single organization can manage,” Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said in a press release .
Overture and its partners are looking for some key features, such as creating a simplified reference system by linking entities from datasets to real entities and an assurance phase, which combs the entire system for possible errors and vulnerabilities.
Jan Erik Solem, Engineering Director, Maps at Meta, added that Overture “provides the foundation for an open metaverse built by creators, developers and businesses.” The company could see this new geolocation project as a major asset as it continues to move forward with its Metaverse, which includes AR and VR technology.
Microsoft’s Russell Dicker, corporate vice president of product, maps and local, reiterated the company’s commitment to geospatial data and technology. The computer software company does have its own street mapping project, which Meta helped build.
Amazon is seemingly wary of the effort. Michael Kopenec, general manager of AWS, said that “maintaining accurate and comprehensive map data is prohibitive and complex.” However, Amazon realizes the benefits of working with this new Linux project to create higher quality map data for more users.
The Netherlands-based company TomTom, whose market share has suffered in the wake of Google Maps, sees this partnership as the next step in map-making.
Google Maps has remained at the top of this geolocation hill for a long time with almost every Android phone already pre-installed with the app. It is an incredibly popular app that is becoming a household name. And to continue to rise above the rest, Google recently introduced its Live View technology to its maps, presenting information through your phone’s camera.
The company also recently combined its Google Maps and Waze teams, which could see the two apps borrow even more functionality between them. And while that has raised some concerns about employee well-being, Google has remained steadfast in saying that it won’t be terminating anyone and that the company now “could benefit from further increased technical collaboration.”
Apple is another major player in the navigation game that isn’t involved in the effort, which makes sense given its investments in improving Apple Maps over the years.
Overture says it expects to release its first datasets sometime during the first half of 2023. This first release will include basic layers such as buildings, roads and administrative information.