My name is Josh Minor, and I am the Product Manager for the Wikipedia iOS
app. I wanted to speak to a couple specific issues and misunderstandings
raised by this email thread.

First, please take a look at
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS/Maps_service which
provides some background on this decision. Jonatan linked to it, and it
covers several of the concerns raised on the thread and gives our
reasoning. I'd also suggest subscribing to this ticket:
https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T157763 which Jonatan filed, and where
you can track efforts and issues with replacement maps.

A few clarifying points:

1. The Places tab[1], and its use of Apple’s maps tiles, is not part of the
articles or article display, it is a navigational aid to help you find
articles. This doesn’t mean it’s exempt from considerations raised here,
but just want to clarify that this is not about editor created maps in
projects, but rather an app-specific discovery mechanism.

2. The feature doesn’t violate our privacy policy[2] and was reviewed by
Wikimedia Foundation's Legal department before entering beta. The App’s
access to the users’ geolocation to recommend nearby articles, with the
users’ explicit consent, is already part of both apps. The new feature
merely adds a different way to visually view nearby articles - the user
must, as before, still provide explicit consent for the App to access their
geolocation. Users can always turn on or off the provision of their
geolocation via their iPhone location settings.

The feature also makes requests to Apple’s map tile servers for display on
the App. These tiles may or may not be near the actual location of the
user. It doesn’t involve sending Apple the articles you read or anything
about your Wikipedia usage. Apple has public statements and documentation
to explain[3] how their maps service preserves privacy by using a
randomized and frequently changing device ID to request the maps, by not
tracking users over time, and by not  building map usage profiles of users.
Overall, Apple’s data collection practices are governed by their privacy
policy [4], which  users must agree to order to use their iPhones.

We plan to further expand the explanation in the FAQ/privacy section of the
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS/Maps_service page in
the next day or so.

3. As stated by others on this thread, the issue at hand is the feasibility
and usability of a libre maps tile server, and impacts on users and how it
reflects (or doesn’t) the values of Wikimedians. The rest of the work on
this feature (such as the time spent on search, visually clustering items
on the map, a list view of nearby landmarks, and the Wikipedia article
pins) will be applicable, independent of the map provider. In fact, I’d
estimate the engineer doing the work spent more time on hacking to try to
make a combination of MapBox and Wikimedia tiles work, than he did/will on
integrating/removing Apple maps.

4. This feature was announced on the Wikimedia Blog[5], described in an
initial MediaWiki.org page[6], all work was documented and tracked on
Phabricator (including an initial tech investigation, the request to remove
Apple Maps during development, and the overall feature[7]) and then the
decision to push into beta with Apple Maps further documented on

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for the feedback and the
opportunity to engage in a civil discussion about these important issues.
Again, if you are interested in the next steps, I’d invite you to subscribe
and comment on the phab ticket https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T157763 or
the MediaWiki.org page.

[1] Design specification: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T130889
[3] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203033,
[4] http://www.apple.com/privacy/privacy-policy/
[5] https://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/06/17/wikipedia-mobile/
[6] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS/Nearby
[7] https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/tag/ios-app-feature-places/
[8] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS/Maps_service
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