OpenStreetMap (OSM), a community based mapping project to create a free editable map of the world has been launched recently on Android by a Berlin based company Skobbler. Open street map can be considered as wikipedia kind of mapping service and is supported by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, a non-profit organization registered in England.
Unlike Google, which can only be used online, the app can be used both online and offline. It is available at a small price of $1, however, allows only one free country to download for offline use. For other cities, states, or countries, users have to pay separately.
A separate free version is also there which gives access to full online maps of the world, with a 14 day trial and voice added navigation facility.
Also, recently Mapbox, a platform which helps users find bars on foursquare, search for hotels on Hipmunk, and organize notes in Evernote, announced the launch of its new editor, codenamed ’iD’, for open street map. It is an open source based application, like Linux where anybody can create the maps at openstreetmaps.
This editor is a critical update to OpenStreetMap’s tool set and is designed to improve the first-time editing experience while providing a fast and a user friendly interface. It provides an inbuilt tutorial and in-line help for anybody mapping on OpenStreetMap, even if the users are not having the skills to create a local map. Also, it is launched in dozens of other languages apart from english.
It helps users to map distinct features like roads, trails, buildings, parks, cafés, schools and hospitals. Unlike google, it does not only provide feature to mark the positions but also allows users to map the complete route between two and more destinations.
Currently, there are over one million registered OpenStreetMap users all over the world. In a country like India, with millions of kms of road, different languages and fast changes, OSM shows a huge potential to bring a map created by users if can appeal to the masses.
In past many online mapping services like MapmyIndia, Bhuvan (A Geoportal of ISRO), Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, etc have tried to make their place in this space. But with the presence of Google maps, no one was able to touch the market share to a wide extent.
Though this move of OpenStreetMap can be seen as an attempt to give tough competition to Google maps, it will be worth watching whether the app is able to compete with the popularity that Google maps has achieved as a global brand. Also, Google has recently announced a new update for Google maps. This update will give new features such as no more sidebar, location information in pop-ups, option to filter local search and many more.