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Duking it out at the Smartphone Mobile App Mapping API Corral: Apple, Google, and the Competition

Professor Hanan Samet (University of Maryland)


DATE: 2013-04-17
TIME: 15:00:00 - 16:30:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU
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The recent introduction of the Apple iPhone 5 and the accompanying iOS6 software environment which, among other changes, replaced the use of the Google Maps API in iOS5 by Apple's own Maps API, has led to significant changes in the user experience with apps that make use of maps and has resulted in closer scrutiny of mapping applications on mobile devices. Many of these changes in the user experience deal with the quality of the data that is being produced and presented to the user, and has led to a wide ranging discussion of data quality and the seeming lack of quality assurance policies and protocols by Apple. These are widely documented in web postings. However, equally important are significant changes in the manner in which the data is presented to the user, but, surprisingly, not much attention has been paid to this aspect of the user experience which is somewhat analogous to the concept of the ``last mile'' when discussing the bandwidth of communications networks and its associated costs. The changes in the presentation and in the amount of data that are presented to the user on the Apple mapping platform, with an emphasis on mobile devices with a small form factor such as smartphones, are tabulated and compared along with other mapping platforms such as the iOS apps of ESRI, MapQuest, and OpenSeaMap (using the open source map data of OpenStreetMap), as well as Bing Maps and Nokia Maps for which no iOS app exists and thus the corresponding mobile web versions are used. Both the pre-iOS6 and post-iOS6 versions of the Google Maps API are included.

* Best Paper Award, 1st ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Mobile Geographic Information Systems (MobiGIS 2012), Redondo Beach, CA, November 2012 ** Joint work with Brendan C. Fruin and Sarana Nutanong

This lecture is part of the ACM Distinguished Speaker Program.
Hanan Samet ( received the B.S. degree in engineering from UCLA, and the M.S. Degree in operations research and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Stanford University. At Stanford, he was a member of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab where he was one of the developers of the SAIL programming language compiler. His doctoral dissertation dealt with proving the correctness of translations of LISP programs which was the first work in translation validation.

In 1975 he joined the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is a Professor. He is a member of the Computer Vision Laboratory and leads a number of research projects on the use of hierarchical data structures for geographic information systems, computer graphics, image processing, and search. His research group has developed the QUILT system which is a GIS based on hierarchical spatial data structures such as quadtrees and octrees, the SAND system which integrates spatial and non-spatial data, the SAND Browser ( which enables browsing through a spatial database using a graphical user interface, the VASCO spatial indexing applet (found at, the MARCO system for map retrieval by content which consists of a sophisticated pictorial query specification method, the STEWARD system for identifying the geographic focus of documents thereby facilitating the performance of spatio-textual search to enable searches that rank the results by spatial proximity rather than by exact match, and the NewsStand and TwitterStand systems that apply these ideas to a database of news articles and Tweets, respectively, that are continuously updated and that enable them to be accessed using a map query interface.

He is the founding editor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Spatial Algorithms and System (TSAS), an associate editor of Graphical Models, an advisory editor of the Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, and on the editorial boards of GeoInformatica and Image Understanding. He is the founding chair of the ACM SIG on Spatial Information. He has served as the co-general chair of the 2007 and 2008 ACM SIGSPATIAL Conference on Geographic Information Systems (ACM GIS).

His research interests include data structures, computer graphics, geographic information systems, computer vision, robotics, database management systems, and programming languages, and is the author of over 300 publications on these topics. He is the author of the recent book titled "Foundations of Multidimensional and Metric Data Structures" ( published by Morgan-Kaufmann, an imprint of Elsevier, in 2006, an award winner in the 2006 best book in Computer and Information Science competition of the Professional and Scholarly Publishers (PSP) Group of the American Publishers Association (AAP), and of the first two books on spatial data structures titled "Design and Analysis of Spatial Data Structures", and Applications of Spatial Data Structures: Computer Graphics, Image Processing, and GIS", both published by Addison-Wesley in 1990.

He is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, AAAS, and IAPR (International Association for Pattern Recognition), and was also elected to the ACM Council in 1989-1991 where he served as the Capital Region Representative. He received the 2009 UCGIS research award, the 2011 ACM Paris Kanellakis theory and practice award, and best paper awards in the 2008 ACM SIGMOD and SIGSPATIAL Conferences, and in the 2012 SIGSPATIAL MobiGIS Workshop.

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