Making a map is hard and expensive. When Apple released its iPhone5, it replaced the standard Google Maps with its own mapping technology, but it didn't work well. Apple CEO Tim Cook had to issue an apology after customers expressed dissatisfaction with the program's misleading directions and geographical errors.
Both Google and Apple are able to make money from their digital map technology by using the location of a user's phone to promote nearby businesses and attractions.
One if the ways Google collects information is their Google car, which is equipped with nine built-in cameras that capture images of streets around the world. By combining the pictures with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) information, Google can provide precise locations with their Street View feature.
The challenge is to keep the maps updated as roads and buildings change. In the past, it could take hundreds of years for cartographers-- map makers--to correct simple errors. For instance, old maps of America show California as an island. Google corrects its mistakes more quickly by responding to the constant feedback users provide them. This process of tackling a problem is called crowdsourcing.
A company called Waze also uses this method. They allow drivers who have downloaded their app to update information on traffic congestion they might experience on the road. Waze then provides alternative routes.
"The problem with making a map is that it's never done. The world keeps changing. The great thing that we have is that we're able to fix it really quickly." - Michael Weiss-Malik, Google.
"The Apple path was, let's see what sources are out there already, let's add our own technology to bring it together, but let's not actually create our own maps, which is a fine strategy, but it means that they lose control." - Di-Ann Eisnor,Waze.
1. What kinds of maps have you used in your life?
2. What is the different between a digital and a traditional paper map?
3. What are some advantages and disadvantages of digital and paper maps?
1. What was wrong with the maps on the newest iPhone? What could Apple have done differently?
2. How does crowdsourcing work? Do you think it's a good idea to use anyone's input when creating a map?
3. What is the most important thing a map should provide? Is it important that it is in 3D - why or why not?
4. What do you think about companies using your location to promote businesses around you?
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