Hey Magnus,

There are a few other factors to consider in addition to those listed. For
example, development cost. Our maps tile service is not compatible with the
iOS app out of the box. This isn't surprising; Apple wants you to use
things like Apple Maps rather than your own solution. Android is, by its
nature, a more open platform, so I am not too surprised that it was easier
to integrate our tile server into the Android app than the iOS app. Sadly,
it's not as simple as just switching over to OSM-based tiles; on the
contrary, it's a significant amount of work.

Now, using our tile service would also have required the iOS app to use the
MapBox SDK. This is the size of all their other third party libraries
combined, significantly increasing app download size. The size of your app
can significantly reduce downloads [1]. Switch a single feature over to a
different set of map tiles, and possibly decreasing downloads of the app,
seems like a dangerous and counterintuitive tradeoff to me.

So the question is, given all this, is switching over the nearby feature to
use OSM-based tiles instead of Apple Maps worth it? In the long run, if
these problems could be solved, I'd say it absolutely is worth it. But, in
the short term, the work would take significant time and effort, and could
actually decrease app usage by decreasing the app download rate; that
tradeoff doesn't seem worth it to me.


Disclaimers: These are my opinions only. I worked on the apps in the past,
but haven't for two years; my statements about development costs may be
wrong, and the apps folks may well disagree with me about things. I work in
the department responsible for Wikimedia maps, but have only worked on the
team working on maps for a couple of months.

[1]: https://segment.com/blog/mobile-app-size-effect-on-downloads/

On 15 March 2017 at 09:25, Magnus Manske <magnusman...@googlemail.com>

> Hi Josh, all,
> I am not one hell-bent on "FOSS or death"; I tend to use whatever works
> best.
> That said, the cost-benefit analysis of using Apple Maps seems to boil
> down:
> * Apple Maps has slightly better rendering (didn't check, but I assume)
> * Apple Maps uses less mobile bandwidth
> * Apple Maps is not free (as in freedom)
> Now, looking at these points:
> * Somewhat better quality is not an argument. If it were, we would have
> stayed with Britannica, and skipped that whole Wikipedia nonsense.
> Wikipedia became better, in part, because people actually used it, saw the
> issues, and fixed them. And OSM rendering might be not quite en par with
> Apple Maps, it is quite usable, in my experience.
> * Less bandwidth usage is not an argument either. I doubt we are talking
> about a significant percentage of an average users' data volume here. If
> Android users can afford the bandwidth, so can people who buy an iPhone
> (source: used to have iPhone).
> * The price tag is the "non-freedom". As far as I can tell, this would be
> the very first Wikimedia "product" that incorporates non-free technology
> and data. It sets a precedence. It also has the potential to poison the
> otherwise great relations between the Wikipedia, Wikidata, and OSM
> community. It says "OSM is not good enough (at least for Apple users)"
> quite plainly. How would we feel if OSM started to remove Wikidata tags and
> replace them with Britannica links?
> All in all, IMHO, the cost is too high for the (at best) flimsy benefits.
> Cheers,
> Magnus
> On Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 12:52 AM Joshua Minor <jmi...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> > 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
> > MediaWiki.org[8].
> >
> > 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
> > [2]
> > https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS/
> Maps_service#Privacy
> > [3] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203033,
> > https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207056,
> > http://www.apple.com/privacy/approach-to-privacy/
> > [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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Dan Garry
Lead Product Manager, Discovery
Wikimedia Foundation
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