Last June, Apple launched MapKit JS for third-party developers and publishers as an alternative to Google Maps. Today DuckDuckGo announced it was adopting Apple’s MapKit JS framework for both desktop and mobile searches.
All the features available in Apple Maps will now be available for local and map-based searches on DuckDuckGo. The company had been using OpenStreetMap (and MapBox) for local results. While Apple Maps and Google Maps are visually quite different, many users may not immediately notice the change from OpenStreetMap.
Current DuckDuckGo Map Results (“Pizza in Cupertino”)
DuckDuckGo Apple MapKit Powered Results (“Pizza in Cupertino”)
Google Maps (“Pizza in Cupertino”)
DuckDuckGo said it it’s one of the first global companies using Apple MapKit JS. It also stressed that it doesn’t send any personally identifiable information to Apple or any other third parties in the process of delivering map results.
DuckDuckGo uses IP lookups to provide anonymous local results, which may be relatively imprecise — especially for mobile users. In such circumstances it invites users to share location with DuckDuckGo for better results. The company explains that location sharing will deliver better data from the browser to DuckDuckGo. However, DuckDuckGo says it immediately discards the data after the session and never stores user location in its server logs.
Why you should care. In October DuckDuckGo announced that it was processing roughly 30 million queries per day. The search engine’s growth roughly parallels growing popular concern over online privacy.
If the company’s user base continues to grow (50 percent year over year), it will start to be a more attractive place for paid-search advertisers. (Search ads on DuckDuckGo are syndicated through Bing and Yahoo.) Its traffic remains a tiny fraction of Google’s. Indeed, Google has more than 100X the daily global search volume of DuckDuckGo.