Google Maps Alternatives

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Google Maps

Google has a firm grip on the desktop. Their products and services are ubiquitous. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are concerns about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.

What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.

In this series, we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We’ll recommend open source solutions.

Google MapsOne of Google’s most popular services is Google Maps, a web mapping service which offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, and interactive panoramic views.

It’s used by more than 1 billion people every month. While it’s a very easy mapping service to use, it collects a lot of data which isn’t limited to GPS location settings from your phone.

What do we recommend as alternatives?

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. OpenStreetMap allows you to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth. It’s kept up to date by people using GPS devices, aerial photography and other free sources of information.

There are various open source software that taps into and other similar services. Our favorite is QGIS, an Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS). In QGIS version 3, there are built-in features to use raster and vector data from OpenStreetMap. The OSM plugin, a core QGIS plugin, provides the basic functionalities for OSM data manipulation; this includes data loading, importing, saving, downloading, editing and uploading data back to the OSM server.

QGIS
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Given that OpenStreetMap is kept up-to-date by its users, we need a simple yet powerful tool to make changes. In this regard, a very useful editor for OpenStreetMap is Java OpenStreetMap Editor (JOSM).

JOSM is a Java-based tool with advanced features including support for loading GPX tracks, background imagery, and OSM data from local sources as well as from online sources and allows to edit the OSM data (nodes, ways, and relations) and their metadata tags.

JOSM
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All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Google's Products and Services
GmailEmail is an essential activity and starts the ball rolling in this series
MapsWeb mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps +
PhotosStore your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere
TranslateMultilingual neural machine translation service
CalendarManage your busy life with a digital calendar
ChromeApplication software for accessing the World Wide Web
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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