Google Maps braces for more competition as Linux partners with Microsoft, Meta, and others

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(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Linux Foundation has gained the aid of Meta, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and TomTom for its new map project.
  • Linux created the Overture Maps Foundation with the purpose of creating relevant maps and geolocation for developers without being too costly.
  • This is all in an effort to potentially release the grip Google Maps has on the industry as it has continuously worked to improve its GPS technology and other features.
  • Overture is expected to release its first data sets during the first half of 2023.

The beacon is lit, and several large tech companies have come to aid Linux in dethroning Google Maps.

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit company, has announced the launch of its own open-source program called the Overture Maps Foundation (via Gizmodo). This new project is placing its efforts into curating and collating map data from around the world using multiple data sources. Overture's mission is stated as being one that can "enable current and next-generation map products by creating reliable, easy-to-use, and interoperable open map data."

Coming to aid Linux in these new efforts are Meta, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the geolocation company TomTom. Linux is trying to give everyone an equal shot with this map-based project for developers looking to create current maps and geolocation services without being too costly 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 one organization can manage," Linux Foundation’s Executive Director Jim Zemlin said in a press release.

Overture and its partners are looking to provide a few key features, such as creating a simplified reference system by linking entities from data sets to real-life entities and an assurance phase, combing the entire system for potential 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 alike." The company could see this new geolocation project as a great asset as it continues to move forward with its Metaverse, incorporating AR and VR technologies. 

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 has helped to build.

Amazon is seemingly cautious about the endeavor. Michael Kopenec, general manager of AWS, stated that "maintaining accurate and comprehensive map data is cost prohibitive and complex." However, Amazon does realize the benefits of working alongside this new Linux project to create higher-quality map data for more users.

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 nearly every Android phone already coming with the app preinstalled. It's an incredibly popular app, becoming a household name. And to continue soaring above the others, Google's recently brought in its Live View technology to its maps by offering 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 features between them. And while this bubbled up some concerns for employees' well-being, Google remained adamant in saying that it would not terminate anyone and that the company could now "benefit from further increased technical collaboration."

Apple is another significant player in the navigation game who is not involved in the endeavor, which makes sense given its investments in improving Apple Maps through the years.

Overture says it's expecting to release its first data sets at some point during the first half of 2023. This first release will include basic layers like buildings, roads, and administrative information.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.