Amazon Maps API — Because in 2012 Everyone Needs Their Own Mapping API

UPDATE: Yes it has been confirmed, Nokia is providing the mapping platform to Amazon.

As nice as chocolate and peanut butter turned out, sometimes you just don’t want someone else’s API putting raisins in your oatmeal cookies (yes raisins are the work of the devil). Amazon, who has their own mobile platform, has made sure the shriveled up Google Maps API does not have to be used by their developers.

You may have noticed a new API on the Amazon Mobile App SDK tab in the developer portal. When we announced Kindle Fire HD, we also made the Amazon Maps API available to our developer community. The Amazon Maps API makes it easy for you to integrate mapping functionality into apps that run on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. These new devices will also support location-based services through the android.location API.

I’m not going to apply to see their beta because I have zero use for yet another mapping API. That said as the Amazon Mobile platform becomes larger, developers are going to be looking for these APIs. We can expect this to look like Nokia’s mapping API given that Amazon chose Nokia to provide their mapping technology. Nook aside, every mobile phone/tablet platform has their own mapping API now. Amazon has been on fire (pun intended) lately and I can assure you the moment that Amazon gives these Kindle Fire devices free to Amazon Prime customers, I’ll go ahead and take it.

I don’t see this having much impact on Apple/Android given they both have pretty much solidified themselves as the top two platforms. The “also-rans” of Microsoft, Nook, Blackberry, and possibly whatever is left of PalmOS are now going to have to battle a 3rd platform (Kindle) that is well supported by it’s owner and is innovating at a great pace. I’d suspect Nokia will make more money off providing mapping to the Kindle platform than they will selling their own phones.

Spatial isn’t special, but it sure has it’s own API.

Man with no name nod

You see in this world there’s two kinds of mobile platforms, my friend. Those with mapping APIs, and those who dig. You dig.

The One Where James Talks About GIS Baseball

There where a couple new features to this week’s hangout.

  1. No guest – We’ll be going “guest free” about every 4-6 weeks to just have a hangout.
  2. IRC – The IRC discussion was great and added to the conversation. Plus the after show continued discussions on JavaScript, hosted GIS companies and baseball. Don’t bail next time after the show ends.
  3. Google Moderator – It actually was a great way to get questions before hand. We’ll continue to use it in the future.

Show is up for those who missed it and we’ll have the IRC log on the show page very soon.

This Week’s Hangout: Talking Shop

There is a small change this week to the hangout. First off the commenting has bothered all of us since day one. YouTube comments are almost worthless and Disqus has issues. So from today forward, we are going to use IRC to manage the discussion. When you visit the Hangout page 15 minutes before the show, you’ll see the web IRC client appear. This will allow you to join the new Hangout IRC channel, #hwjf. Of course you can also just add this to your own IRC client. Just point it to and join the room #hwjf. This should make it much easier to have a discussion with everyone.

The second change is we have no guest this week. I thought it might be fun to take a week off and just talk shop, hence the “clever” title. As there is no set topic this week, we set up a Google Moderator thread where you can propose and vote on topics. I encourage you to post a question and vote up. Feel free to vote up this one!

Next week we are back to a guest and I’ve got some really great ones lined up. See you guys tomorrow at 10am PDT.


Twenty Percent of GIS Data isn’t Spatial

OK, well maybe not but everyone has a theory about where that quote from last week came from. Here are some of them:

  1. Some professor (usually from New Jersey) came up with it in 1988 (or 1987)
  2. Roger Tomlinson coined it in the 1960’s
  3. Oracle/IBM/Sybase/Informix did a study in the 1990s
  4. Kellogg report on AM/FM in utilities back in the early 1980’s [H/T: David Sonnen]
  5. Jesus

I think this is a classic case of the old telephone game we played as kids. Eventually when you get far enough from the source, you can’t trust anything. The 80% (or any number you wish) is really just anecdotal at this point. All data is only once removed from being spatial so the number is almost irrelevant. David Sonnen put it very well on Google+:

Like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, it’s a lovely myth. If you’re trying to do real work, it’s not useful.

Oh and yes the San Francisco Giants have a 5.5 game lead on those stupid Dodgers. Yes it is happening again.


The Atlantic Looks at How Google Builds Maps

The Atlantic – How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything

The office where Google has been building the best representation of the world is not a remarkable place. It has all the free food, ping pong, and Google Maps-inspired Christoph Niemann cartoons that you’d expect, but it’s still a low-slung office building just off the 101 in Mountain View in the burbs.

I figured they had offices, but I’ve clearly underestimated the ping pong factor. Time to get Paul to buy some ping pong tables for the offices.

The big takeaway (if you don’t like reading liberal leaning publications) is that humans are still critical to getting these maps accurate, even with the computing power of Google. I can’t imagine a more depressing job than shifting these roads around, but someone has to do it and I’m glad they do.


I’m sure the ping pong makes it all worth while.

The One Where Tyler Bell Defines Big Data

This weeks hangout is now up on YouTube so if you missed my very special guest, Tyler Bell, you can enjoy his definition of “big data”, some old Yahoo! Geo projects that are still alive (and one that isn’t), place data and of course the part where he wishes he had a JSON feed of his credit card purchases.

As I mentioned on the show, next week will be something new. Madeline and I will have an open discussion where we’ll be talking about what it means to be a GIS Professional in 2013 (it’s almost here guys) and taking questions from you using Google Moderator. If you want to have me comment on a subject, whether it be my love of Flash or how I think the Dodgers are going to choke away the baseball season again, you can post the question and vote up others. I’ve already populated it with a couple questions I get asked weekly.

This Week’s Hangout: It’s Just Data

This weeks hangout should be tons of fun. My ex “This Week in Maps” co-host (is that what we were?), Tyler Bell joins me and Madeline to talk about just about anything location. Tyler works for Factual so there is bound to be some discussion about big data, location business models, Google buying patents from deCarta and why we all are still standing. Should be fun as always! Join us on the WeoGeo Hangout page tomorrow!