Mapbox, who's client list includes Roadtrippers, has now expanded into an open mobile SDK, free for up to 50,000 MAUs.
The startup focuses exclusively on powering well-designed, custom maps for other companies' applications via both its Studio and Enterprise products.
In order to implement the mobile SDK, there's only one line of code that must be changed. And at the moment, the SDK is only available for iOS — Android coming soon.
One of the unique features of the product is that data is anonymized and returned to improve the mapping product for everyone. The team has worked diligently to reduce battery drain to create a product any developer would gladly use — and thus improve the overall quality of Mapbox's maps without having to engage in the expense of actually driving cars around to document the world.
Talking to TechCrunch, Mapbox CEO explains why this fundamental difference matters:
Nokia HERE is just doing it wrong. They are spending over a half a billion dollars a year driving cars around and processing that data. That was how you made a map 10 years ago — like back when you had these little Nokia dumb phones. These guys don’t understand the idea of building for mobile and building tools for developers — if they did they would be able to get real time data streams back and have a better map. The future is about open data, great tools for developers, and real time data from users that feed back into a better map.
As part of the product, Mapbox has create a dashboard that offers deeper insights to developers who want to learn more about how users are engaging with maps.
The openness of the Android and iOS platforms could also be challenged here. If the powers-that-be see a threat in using an open-source mapping application, they could very well further wall off the garden and require app developers to only use the native map within their apps. That would be a net loss for the industry, however, as it would stifle creativity and create more uniformity in map visuals that would eliminate design as a differentiator. Let's hope an open map API continues to be a thing!