Samsung subsidiary Mapzen hiring Apple cartographers, designers for maps initiative

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 44

    The people that left Apple were not fired for screwing up Apple Maps. The left of their own free will. The management changed and replaced the managers who were real cartographers with a long-time Apple employee who had led the debacle that was mobileMe. So, just like any big company, internal politics (and horrible managers) play a role in maintaining hard-working, smart people. And for all our sakes, I hope she doesn't screw up Maps like she did MobileMe...



    Some background on mapping.... Think on this. Do any of you know how to make a map, let along digital maps with navigation? It's unbelievable how much DATA is needed for a single segment of road. 

     

    - road name 1

    - road name 2

    - road name 3, etc

    - segment unique ID (database purposes)

    - owners unique ID (so you can maintain database compatibility)

    - road class

    - road width

    - road surface

    - speed limit

    - speed minimum

    - address: side of street

    - city, county, state, country, zip

    - road direction

    - road owner

    - road maintainer

    - cross street

    - block number

    etc.

     

    And let's not forget all that lovable mass transit information. Easy right? Yeah, think about about how many trains and buses there area around the world, and you try to come up with a system that talk to all those local agencies so that your map gets live updates where the train/buses are. Have you ever tried to get data from a big city? In a format that's useful and compatible with your system (and all those other transit systems)? Ha...good luck. 

     

    Then you have to put imagery on top of that and make sure it all aligns properly. With the same map projection and datum. So if the data you're getting is in a different projection, you have to REproject it to your current projection. No. Simple. Task. Especially if it's live data. Otherwise, the road won't be in the right place, or won't line up with the imagery or two sources won't align with each other.

     

    All that data has to be stored, maintained and organized so it's served up with speed and accuracy. Code monkeys can handle this stuff.

     

    Now the fun part, you have to make all that information quickly readable and understandable. All the while looking like your product, i.e. Apple Map, versus gMaps. It takes a LOT of time to figure out how to display a map so the information is accessible to users.

     

    Every time your zoom in or out, the map server is turning data on and off for that particular scale. If you're zoomed into your house, you want to see surface street names. But at a the state level, you want to see interstates, but not surface streets. But at what scales do you show what features? That's a human job: a cartographer's job. 

     

    Cartography is an art, not just a machine that you code together. But if you have managers who don't value your work, your drive (pardon the pun) to get an excellent product out...AND...you have higher level executive who are more worried about kissing up to Taylor Swift than making sure a core product is working....well, you get the idea. 

     

    So, it wasn't that the cartographers that left (recent job postings put it at around three positions left vacant) weren't smart and making a good product. It was because the workplace environment had become toxic. Why else would 3+ people all leave within the span of two weeks? But you can thank those who left for pushing and working hard until the mass transit maps were released. I just hope the new cartographic "manager" doesn't screw it up.

     

    Disclosure: I'm not nor have not ever been an Apple employee. I just know the industry. It's a small world, cartography is.

  • Reply 22 of 44
    thrangthrang Posts: 760member
    Wasn't 2013 when Apple Maps was really being criticized as poor? These hires were either good people who were brought in to fix Maps but then left for some reason, or, they were part of the old flotsam and jetsam being cleared out as part of improving things over the past two years.
  • Reply 23 of 44

    Hey there really useful and helpful information thanks

  • Reply 24 of 44



    Mapzen is not a subsidiary of Samsung.

  • Reply 25 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member

    Mapzen is not a subsidiary of Samsung.
    Note the statement at the bottom of the privacy policy:
    https://mapzen.com/open/privacy/

    "Mapzen is a division of Samsung Research America, Inc. (“SRA”). The Personally Identifiable Information collected by Mapzen may be shared within SRA or with entities that are controlled by, under common control with, or control SRA. This Privacy Policy is further subject to the terms and conditions of the then-current Samsung Privacy Policy, which you can access at http://www.samsung.com/us/common/privacy.html In the event of any express conflict between the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy and the terms and conditions of the then-current Samsung Privacy Policy, the terms and conditions of the then-current Samsung Privacy Policy shall govern solely with respect to that conflict."

    Samsung also owns the trademarked name:
    https://trademarks.justia.com/860/91/mapzen-86091461.html
  • Reply 26 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Mapzen is a division of Samsung Research America, Inc. (“SRA”).

     

    And "SRA" != Samsung.  

  • Reply 27 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member
    And "SRA" != Samsung.  
    I think you're saying SRA is Samsung, correct? Because they are.
  • Reply 28 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    I think you're saying SRA is Samsung, correct? Because they are.



    From what I know, the MONEY is from SRA, as part of a startup incubator. Not directly from Samsung. It's a little too close for my comfort, as I don't like Samsung as a company. But it appears it's not (at least now) a new samsungMaps division. Ok? 

     

    So again, Mapzen has autonomy. 

  • Reply 29 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member

    From what I know, the MONEY is from SRA, as part of a startup incubator. Not directly from Samsung. It's a little too close for my comfort, as I don't like Samsung as a company. But it appears it's not (at least now) a new samsungMaps division. Ok? 

    So again, Mapzen has autonomy. 
    I don't believe you are correct that they're completely autonomous. Once upon a time they weren't funded in part by the Samsung Accelerator program but the association seems to be deeper than that now. Samsung applied for and received the rights to the name/trademark, which would indicate ownership of the company would it not?
    http://www.trademarkia.com/mapzen-86091461.html

    FWIW their CEO, Randy Meech, doesn't have a very deep history in cartography or even map-centric applications. Smart guy apparently but his work history in primarily in sales and ad platform development.
  • Reply 30 of 44

    And you have to understand something about mapping in today's digital world. 

     

    Making a map is easy. It's a long process, and takes a lot of Design and work. But it's "easy".

     

    It's the data that's the hard part. Getting data that's reliable, in the right format, and timely. That's the hard part.

     

    The "Oh, my gawd, Apple maps are horrible in my area!" exclamation? Yeah, us cartographers hear ya. It's not that we like making dead zones. But for making even simple maps, getting access to data is a big pain in the arse.

     

    In the US, it's supposed to be free, but there are counties that want to charge huge prices for it. Recent court cases have been fought in California to get access to the data.

     

    And once you take the data from a source and you start messing with it, now you have a fork of the data that may not be reliable anymore. What standards are you using to make edits to map data (like on open street maps)?

     

    So, open source groups like Mapzen are trying to bring conformity and reliability to mapping systems. I can almost guarantee you that these folks (and open mapping folks around the world) are not about having corporate overlords messing with access.

  • Reply 31 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member
    And you have to understand something about mapping in today's digital world. 

    Making a map is easy. It's a long process, and takes a lot of Design and work. But it's "easy".

    It's the data that's the hard part. Getting data that's reliable, in the right format, and timely. That's the hard part.

    The "Oh, my gawd, Apple maps are horrible in my area!" exclamation? Yeah, us cartographers hear ya. It's not that we like making dead zones. But for making even simple maps, getting access to data is a big pain in the arse.

    In the US, it's supposed to be free, but there are counties that want to charge huge prices for it. Recent court cases have been fought in California to get access to the data.

    And once you take the data from a source and you start messing with it, now you have a fork of the data that may not be reliable anymore. What standards are you using to make edits to map data (like on open street maps)?

    So, open source groups like Mapzen are trying to bring conformity and reliability to mapping systems. I can almost guarantee you that these folks (and open mapping folks around the world) are not about having corporate overlords messing with access.
    I know a bit about it. ;)
  • Reply 32 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    I don't believe you are correct that they're completely autonomous.

     

    Believe what ya want. You know people in the industry that knows better? 

  • Reply 33 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    I know a bit about it. image



    As do I. ;) ;)

  • Reply 34 of 44
    ignominiignomini Posts: 69member
    I hope Apple replaces these folks with some actual talent. Apple's aerial imaging, at least where I live, is literally years behind Google.
  • Reply 35 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member
    Believe what ya want. You know people in the industry that knows better? 
    Yes I do know "people in the industry" I can ask. I'll see what I can dig up if you wish to know for sure.

    As do I. ;) ;)
    I figured you worked in cartography from reading your initial post, so I'm sure you also know some of the players. Notice I gave that excellent post a "thumbs up".
  • Reply 36 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ignomini View Post



    I hope Apple replaces these folks with some actual talent. Apple's aerial imaging, at least where I live, is literally years behind Google.



    Apple licenses the data, it doesn't go take the imagery itself. In fact, nobody but 1-2 companies provide imagery. And even then, the imagery might be years behind. New imagery is very costly, because it's usually airplanes doing the detailed work. The different licenses available might not have the updated images. If google has gone with local government source, that's even more money and logistics.



    Moreover, the folks you are talking about, and are referenced in these news items, had NO say on which aerial imagery was used. And I can say almost with certainty, that they didn't even work on that part of the map system from Apple. Online mapping has many pieces and acquiring imagery is just one little piece.

  • Reply 37 of 44
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    Yes I do know "people in the industry" I can ask. I'll see what I can dig up if you wish to know for sure.



    If you know somebody in Samsung, SRA, or Mapzen who has access to management level decisions, yeah sure, let us all know.

  • Reply 38 of 44
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jkichline View Post



    What the hell is with putting "zen" at the end of everything. Samsung should really be taking up praying whilst kissing their own arses goodbye instead.



    Would you prefer they put an 'i' at the beginning of everything?

  • Reply 39 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,009member

    If you know somebody in Samsung, SRA, or Mapzen who has access to management level decisions, yeah sure, let us all know.
    I thought the disagreement, what you were "calling out", was over Samsung ownership as mentioned in the Appleinsider article.

    You said they didn't own them. I'm guessing you're now coming around to recognize Mapzen is owned by Samsung so the thing we might disagree about is how much influence they have over Mapzen operations. Is that the gist of it? If so that's a pretty tough one to establish so if you have it on good authority that Samsung has no involvement beyond ownership I'll just take your word for it. Not worth troubling any of my contacts over it, nor would their opinion change yours in all likelihood.

    It's not what we were originally discussing anyway and honestly isn't all that important other than noting Samsung's ownership alluded to by the AI author is accurate as best I can tell.
  • Reply 40 of 44
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    "With a fairly mature set of 2D mapping assets"

     

    That assertion is questionable.  Apple's map data for Ireland is risible.

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