OS X Mavericks Preview: Map Kit opens up the world to developers

OS X Mavericks Preview: Map Kit

Apple Maps are coming to Mavericks, as well all know. But Apple's Map Kit is almost as important, because it lets third-party developers tap into that data and technology.

Map Kit for Mavericks provides the same essential access to information that its counterpart does for iOS: with it, developers can display maps in their own application, using the same cartographic information as what you would see in the Maps app itself.

But it doesn't end there. The Map Kit API also provides support for Multi-Touch Gestures, pinch to zoom and panning, so new apps will do more than just display maps. You'll be able to interact with them in ways that will be instantly familiar to anyone who's messed around with maps on an iOS device.

This is a first for OS X - up to now, developers have had to rely on third-party data sets through services like Google Maps, which relies on JavaScript for functionality. By comparison, Map Kit is an Objective-C framework, so it can be incorporated natively into new applications.

Nuts and Gum, together at last

There wasn't a any talk about Map Kit on the WWDC keynote stage in June, but Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, actually demonstrated how the technology works when he showed off the Mavericks version of Calendar. With support for the Map Kit API, Calendar can do things like embed maps into your appointment information, so you know where to go - and it can even predict how long it will take you to get there, so you can pad your schedule accordingly.

That only scratches the surface of what Map Kit can do, however. It'll be up to third party developers to see how they want to exploit the new API, but one thing's for sure - expect to see more Mac apps incorporating map data once Mavericks is out in the world.

Do you use maps on your Mac? Or are you a developer champing at the bit to get your hands on this stuff? Let me know in the comments.

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

OS X Mavericks Preview: Map Kit opens up the world to developers


I'm looking forward to being able to use Maps on a Mac and plan routes, etc. and send them to my iPhone... or iPad and just go... :)

I would be interested to know what (if anything) Apple charges for this service. Other services such as Google or Bing maps to charge for this service for commercial applications beyond a certain volume. e.g. Google charges for more than 25,000 api hits per day. Bing does similar.

If Apple were to offer this service for free, it could potentially hurt Google's business model. Just as Google attempts to disrupt Apple and Microsoft's business models.

Apple should make a slide showing the things developers can do in Map Kit that they cannot do in Google Maps SDK. Some of them are pretty significant like being able to save a high resolution map as an image, generate a route between any two points and export it as points, no limits on forward or reverse geocoding (except to prevent bugs). No limits on map use and no fees. Apple is winning the mapping game and it just keeps getting better with each new release of iOS.