MAPS.ME

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MAPS.ME
Maps.me android 2023.jpg
Author: MapsWithMe GmbH
License: closed source and older versions available at Apache v2.0 on GitHub
or my.com to MAPS.ME (free of charge)
Platforms: iOS and Android
Version: ? (Android); ? (iOS) (2023-05-19)
Languages: English, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese
Website: https://maps.me
Install:
Source code: closed source[2], older versions available at mapsme/omim
Programming language: C++

Offline maps of all countries, fast renderer, offline search, whole planet fits to 27Gb

MAPS.ME (formerly known as MapsWithMe) is a free, proprietary mobile app for iOS and Android that provides offline maps of 345 countries and islands based on OpenStreetMap data. Older versions were open source but it has changed[3].

See Organic Maps for open source fork that has no trackers[4][5], requires far less invasive permissions, has no invasive ads and allows some simple edits from within the app.

Features

  • Routing — receive offline map directions to a specific location. Note that bicycle routing offers invalid routes, violating tagged turn restrictions[6], what generates routes unsafe and illegal to follow.
  • Possibility to download unlimited number of maps
  • Offline work
  • Adding new OSM POIs
  • Possibility to determine user’s location through the use of GPS
  • Offline search (by name, address, category and coordinates)
  • Adding bookmarks
  • Auto-follow mode
  • Possibility to share location and bookmarks with friends
  • Import of bookmarks and tracks in KML format
  • Switching between different map styles
  • Record GPS track in Dat format (GPX convertor). The track will be removed automatically from the map after the time interval will expire (1 hour by default).

The new version 11.0.0 for iOS released in December 2020 changed the app significantly and removed what made this app interesting and worth using. E.g. the map style is completely different, there are no house numbers, no street names, no adding and editing POIs[7]. During this change the project was forked, with the fork named Organic Maps[8]. However, as of version 12 many of the offending changes seem to have been undone, with MAPS.ME and Organic Maps' product appearing quite similar. MAPS.ME requests much more permissions - such as contacts, biometric hardware and recording audio[9]. It also continued to focus on monetization with local guides, tourism and commerce which may be either useful features - or an obnoxious clutter.

GPX Track recording

You need use "Recent track" option (app's settings – Map – Recent track) and set 1 day instead 1 hour. Recent track stores in gps_track.dat file. Located at "MapsWithMe" folder. To convert .dat file to .gpx you need use convertors 1, 2.

Privacy

The app does send activity (including used locations) and phone detail data to maps.me and external parties, including tracking services, even when having the map data downloaded before (offline map). This is not what users of an OSM offline app may expect. For a review of the iOS version, see the SotM 2019 talk Is your OSM App spying on you? (@ 8:57–15:18 min). Regarding the Android version see two discussions [1] and [2] about axet's version of the MAPS.ME app (this fork removed many, but – in the past – not always all trackers). However, the fork is no longer maintained and not accessible on the F-Droid store anymore. A contemporary tracker free fork of Maps.me is Organic Maps.

Editing

Maps.me offers a simple build in editor with limited functionality that only allows adding new POIs to OSM. Editing or deleting existing POIs or publishing notes is not possible. Users can, however, upload changes to POIs they added themselves. Moreover the app offers the option to "delete" such POIs. This option, however, doesn't delete the POI, but creates a Note asking more experienced mappers for help.

A major problem, recently introduced, is, that users can not see all existing POIs, as POIs are only displayed if there is enough space on the map for feature icons and labels to not overlap. This means, that users e.g. add a duplicate supermakret, just because they can not see the supermarket already mapped in OSM as it is e.g. hidden by an ATM. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is: Don't use Maps.me for editing OpenStreetMap data.

Note that the editing functionality was changed in 2023, before that editing existing POIs and adding Notes was possible. If you want to edit existing POIs, use Organic Maps.

Questionable edits

Main article: MAPS.ME/Questionable OSM Edits

Some users within the community have expressed concern regarding the quality of many MAPS.ME contributions. MAPS.ME provides a low entry barrier for OSM editing, causing an influx of users unaware of rules, guidelines, and conventions (many of which, presumably, never visited this Wiki) and which in many cases aren't even aware that they are contributing to a crowdsourced mapping project separate from Maps.me.

Low-quality edits are made more likely by the app's design. For instance, the scope of the edits appears to be unclear for many users, and some assume they are editing their own personal map. Another problem is the limited selection of POI presets, with no ability to map anything which isn't predefined. This causes new mappers to use the wrong tags. For example, tourism=guest_house or tourism=attraction are quite often used as generic markers to tag anything that doesn't fit any predefined preset.

It is not uncommon to see Maps.me contributions that can only be assumed to be personal "bookmarks".

The vast majority of Maps.me contributions are language-specific (using name:<lang> instead of name), requiring correction by experienced contributors in order to show up on maps not specific to the language used (if the object previously had no name tag). This behaviour prevents inexperienced tourists from unwittingly overwriting native names, but of course places a bit of a workload on "normal mappers". Experienced contributors can edit the name tag directly by tapping Add a language and selecting the Native for each country option.

Situation is made worse by MAPS.ME developers generally ignoring bug reports[10][11].

History

Main article: MAPS.ME/History

Small international company MapsWithMe with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, and engineering office in Minsk, Belarus, was founded in 2010.

In 2012 MapsWithMe became first on Startup Monthly — startup competition in Vilnius, Lithuania. The team won a nine-week traineeship in the Silicon Valley, USA, as a prize[12].

Beside MAPS.ME app, the company develops offline travel guides GuideWithMe based on WikiVoyage data and MAPS.ME API.

In 2013 developers of YotaPhone, a Russian smartphone with two displays, asked MapsWithMe to develop a version of the app especially for the e-ink display of the device. MapsWithMe released a special version of the app optimized for both color and e-ink screens of the smartphone[13]. The main screen allows users to see maps of all world countries, drop pins on the map and find their location. Then it is possible to move the maps to the e-ink display to use the map in the energy-saving mode.

In 2014 Maps.Me, was included in the list of top-15 startups according to Belarusian web-portal IT.TUT.BY[14].

In November 2014, Maps.Me was bought by Mail.Ru Group, a Russian internet company, and the whole team relocated to Moscow. In 2017, the team consists of roughly 25 people, developers and marketing.

On November 2020, Mail.ru Group sold Maps.me to Daegu Ltd.

In May 2021, the Maps.Me source was forked to create Organic Maps that fixed many problematic and questionable practices.

In summer 2023 the developers limited the number of map regions that can be downloaded for free to 10, resulting in user complaints. A few months later the limite appeares to have been removed.

Data Source and Technologies

All map data for MAPS.ME are taken from OpenStreetMap.

The app uses a proprietary data compression method developed by the company’s engineers that ensures fast operation and low memory usage.

Technologies used in the app:

  • C++
  • Objective C
  • Java
  • Android NDK
  • Qt
  • OpenGL ES

API

MAPS.ME provides a free API for app developers for both commercial and personal use.

Competitors

The main competitors of MAPS.ME are mobile apps that provide offline maps: Guru Maps, Organic Maps, OsmAnd, City Maps 2Go, 2Gis and others. Possibility to download unlimited number of maps, fast rendering and offline search are among benefits of MAPS.ME.

References

External links