Thursday, December 24, 2015

Make sure you didn’t miss anything!


Over the course of 2015 we added almost all of the features that our users asked us for. Let’s make sure that you know about them and haven’t missed anything important.

We started the year by adding POI information to MAPS.ME and continued with navigation, which has become so much better since we released it at the end of 2014. You got voice guidance, routing cross borders, point-to-point navigation and, of course, routes for pedestrians.


Our map style changed, and we are continuing to improve it to give you the best possible experience while traveling and at home. You can still return to the old style by typing ‘oldstyle’ into the search field (‘light’ will bring you back to the new style).

The major update for developers is that the MAPS.ME code was published in open source, so now anyone can use our code to create their own app – for free.

And just before the year ends we managed to add a couple more useful features to the app. Both iOS and Android users got full-screen mode, so nothing will interfere with the map, when details are so important to see. Also inertial scroll is now available on the app, which means it will be easier to move the map over big distances. Try it!

And a bit of fun: you can now use emoji to search for places!


Sometimes users are upset that we seem to be implementing features a little slowly, but you can only see the tip of the iceberg. For example, this year we’ve added the new graphic library, but the result is not visible for users just yet. However, we will be able to use it to implement cool new features in the future, e.g. 3D objects on maps, etc.

We have also grown over 4 times in size this year, and there are now more than 30 million MAPS.ME users! Our team-mate Ilya Zverev became an OpenStreetMap Foundation Board Member and we revealed the secret of our logo. So much has happened to us in 2015 and so much more is waiting for us in 2016!

We want to congratulate you on a great year as we come up to the holidays, and we wish you reliable travel companions and fascinating journeys to come.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Yours,
MAPS.ME Team

Friday, December 4, 2015

SANTA WEARS A GREEN SUITCASE!

December is a month of presents: people celebrate Christmas and New Year by each other gifts. We've decided not to wait for holidays to come around, and we’re putting on our Santa suit right now, at the beginning of December. So this December begins with presents from MAPS.ME, and they are winging their way to you in a green suitcase!


Open it quick, see what you got! Wow, there are two cool gifts inside! The first one is Point-to-Point navigation, which means you can now create routes from any point, not only from your current location. And you can plan your routes in advance.

Well, you were well behaved this year, so check out your second gift in our newly released version 5.2. What's this you ask? Voice guidance?! Exactly! MAPS.ME will now give you directions while you’re driving. We want you to be safe next year, so we hope this feature will help you to stay focused on the road.

Some important tech notes should be written here. We don't use pre-recorded voices, so the text is reproduced by your device's Text-to-Speech (TTS) built-in feature. So the voice quality and language depend on your device, not on the app. You can check the link to find out more.

Wondering, what app real Santa uses to deliver all the present to the right places just in time? Maybe MAPS.ME helps him to visit all the christmas fairs to find the best gifts for each and every person in this world. We bet this year he will definitely use MAPS.ME with its new awesome features.

And the voice guidance will tell:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Yours, MAPS.ME Team

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

MAPS.ME GOES OPEN SOURCE

Dear friends!

As promised, MAPS.ME goes open source. Why are we doing this?

First of all, the open-source app will enable other mobile developers to embed maps in their mobile products for free, with almost no restrictions.

Second, now you can not only contribute to the OpenStreetMap data, but also contribute to the MAPS.ME app itself.

But the most important thing is that mappers and humanitarian activists will use it to improve OpenStreetMap and facilitate relief efforts in the rural areas of disasters and political crises where other digital maps do not provide data, and reliable internet connection is not available.



Fast-updating maps are crucial in areas of humanitarian aid, especially in rural areas and lesser mapped countries. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is constantly working to encourage people to update OSM in these areas. Efforts like Missing Maps’ events prepare maps for printing and uploading to GPS devices by using volunteers in the field. The open-sourced MAPS.ME application now is included into these volunteer’s toolset, and HOT members can not only install the app for doctors and aid workers, reducing the need to teach them how to use it, but also provide people with the most updated maps. Open source means users can tailor the app to their needs, for example, adjusting the map style so important elements like fresh water taps and refugee camps are immediately visible.

“MAPS.ME's decision means that people around the world will now have access to a professionally developed, cross-platform code base that they can freely work with, and that can be customized and remixed into tools of all sorts.” said Blake Girardot, Volunteer Mapper and Member of the Board of Directors, HOT. “The ability to tailor an application means that we can make sure we are presenting or collecting our data in the most efficient way possible for the communities we serve. We will benefit directly from MAPS.ME's decision to open source their applications, and have already started planning for how we can provide our humanitarian focused geographic data and maps for use in the MAPS.ME application.” 

MAPS.ME’s code will also be available under the Apache 2.0 license, which means free usage for users, even when being used for commercial purposes. You can participate in the development of MAPS.ME or get familiar with its source code here: https://github.com/mapsme/omim

Saturday, September 12, 2015

MAPS.ME LAUNCHED ITS WALKING DIRECTONS FEATURE

MAPS.ME launched its Walking Directions feature, that allows hikers as well as urban users to find the best way to reach their destination. 

According to founder Yury Melnichek, MAPS.ME is the best visualization application for mobile for open location data provided by OpenStreetMap, a crowd-sourced map service. The company claims that in some areas MAPS.ME is more accurate than Google maps, specifically for trails in remote locations and for countries that are not on the internet giant’s priority list for mapping. 



As a matter of fact, more people in big cities prefer to walk because of traffic congestions and parking prices, and the traffic has gone crazy for the past two years, due to the tech bubble. 

Since MAPS.ME relies on the OpenStreetMap community of 2.2 million users who produce 2 million edits per day with an average of 23,000 contributors per month, it seems that a lot of unique data such as footpaths or staircases for example are made visible, unlike in other map services. “MAPS.ME walking routes extend where Google Maps can’t, including footpaths, walking trails and even up staircases, because MAPS.ME data is gathered by its enthusiastic community of contributors,” said Yury Melnichek, Head of Maps Business Unit, Mail.Ru Group.

Q&A with Yury Melnichek, founder, MAPS.ME


How and when did you decide start the company behind Maps.me? 

It was an easy choice. I needed a map for my travels that works offline, and also Google Maps didn’t have any data for my home country (Belarus) back then. So after leaving Google and traveling for quite a while, I started MAPS.ME. 

How Maps.me is different and better than Google Maps? What about Waze? 

MAPS.ME works even when there is no Internet connection, since all the data is downloaded on a phone before the first use. Google Maps and Waze are very limited once cell coverage is poor. 

Maps.me is not very well known by the mainstream users in the U.S., because Google map is very accurate here, do you think you can make it more popular? 

I think we can do that by launching features that work better than Google. For example, OpenStreetMap data is better suited for pedestrian navigation, and so we are launching walking directions. As international travel increases, offline becomes more important, and more mainstream users will hear about MAPS.ME. [editor’s note: data roaming is often unavailable or too expensive] 

As the main difference between the Google map services (Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth) and Maps.me is the use of open data, how do you see the future of your service compared to Google? Do you think you can efficiently compete against this internet giant?

I strongly believe in open data, that is being constantly reviewed by other people. It not about MAPS.ME alone competing with Google, but about the whole ecosystem of companies around OpenStreetMap. And as the data quality in OpenStreetMap gets better and better, I think it will eventually become the best source of map data, similar to how Wikipedia became the best encyclopedia. 

Since the acquisition by Mail.ru Group in November 2014, MAPS.ME is free. Can you share with us the business model, currently and in the future? 

We are focused on growing MAPS.ME and OSM community at the moment, in the future we will offer them additional services such as hotel and taxi booking.



Friday, May 15, 2015

MAPS.ME VERSION FOR APPLE WATCH: HOW TO USE

Are you a happy owner of AppleWatch? Then check the AppStore: MAPS.ME version for your device is out!

What’s in?
  • Position location and tracking movements on the map in real time.
  • Category search.
  • Zoom in and out on the map.
  • Works offline as the main app. 
How to use?
  • To zoom in, tap the top part of the screen. To zoom out a bit, tap the middle part of the screen. To zoom out more, tap the bottom part of the screen.
  • Make a long tap to open Search. Choose the category.
  • Tap the POI to cancel it or to make a new search.


MAPS.ME for Apple Watch is optimized for the device’s relatively small screen. You will not have to type anything on the watch’s display: to find a place to dine or the location of the nearest ATM, simply choose the desired category (“Food”, “Hotels”, “Fuel” or “Transport”). The watch then displays a list of the nearest businesses and the distance to each of them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

HACKATHON IS THE BEST TEAM BUILDING, or HOW WE SPENT A WEEK FAR AWAY FROM OUR OFFICE

Those of you who monitor our progress already know that we have a tradition to escape from the office with the whole team for a week or two. This year is not an exception. We spent the whole last week in a small hotel complex on a river bank.

There were a lot of tasks, but the team is also not as small as it used to be! 22 people occupied 2 hotel zones, one was more quiet, for individual work, the other one was for discussions and different team tasks.


Stuff and other guests looked at us suspiciously, because a crowd with laptops who don’t go to bed neither at midnight, nor at 3 a.m. looks pretty strange. Well, guys could go to sleep any time they wanted, but some of our colleagues can be so passionate about their work that don’t notice time at all. 


General Fatigue appeared on the 3rd day when non-stop discussions finally turned into realisation: marathon of programming and testing. We creeped out for breakfast not so cheerfully, each day later and later. Fewer and fewer people attended evening games and chose to sleep. However, team was inspired, eyes were shining and we were infected with enthusiasm and new ideas.


Considering the fact that our team grew 2 times in a couple of months, new people were the majority. 2 developers haven’t worked with us before the trip even a day. But after a week we got a feeling that we know each other for years.
 

Last evening we spent in tet-a-tet talks, when every person complimented each of the colleagues and also advised him or her on what could be improved. Even if there were any misunderstandings during the hackathon, Feedback Evening helped us to solve them.


We won’t tell you about the results of this hackathon, because it’s better to show them in a new release, but you bet we’re preparing something interesting!

Friday, April 3, 2015

What's new in 4.3.1?

4.3.1 version of MAPS.ME has been released on Google Play, Samsung Apps and Amazon and you certainly want to know what we’ve added into it. The first feature was the most desired for our users since we released the version with routing. Yeah, this is it: now you can create routes across countries and regions!



The second addition was also often mentioned in your feedback recently. Previously when you opened the POI information you could only see the name, the type of the object, direct distance to it and coordinates of the place. Now you get twice and even three times more! Just take a look and discover more about the places: opening hours, website, phone number, ATM operator, gas station operator, cuisine type and some more.

Don’t forget: if something is missing, you can always add it at openstreetmap.org, where we take maps from. Help people to learn more about a place you live or visit and they will pay you back.