Why does Zood for Android use Google Maps?

There are two reasons:

  • Running a tile server for Zood would cost about $400/month. Zood doesn't make any money right now, so that's not an expense I can handle at the moment. Google's pricing is super reasonable so I'm using it because it has the best SDK compared to other providers I've tried. It's the fastest at loading and scrolling. It performs well in poor network conditions. The library doesn't make the APK very large (though that's because much of the logic is part of GMS). The SDK actually stores data in the cache as opposed to the user's data directory, thus letting users reclaim SD card space when needed. Most importantly, it's not buggy. Other SDKs would be the source of the majority of crashes in the app. I have yet to experience a single crash with the Google Maps SDK.
  • The Google Maps data is REALLY good. I've noticed that being able to identify where your friend is when looking at map is made much simpler when there are renderings of buildings, landmarks and all the little streets in a town. The OSM data is quite good in Europe, but the data is still spotty in much of the United States, thus making it more difficult to identify a friend's location in the U.S.
  • The goal of this project is to move privacy protection forward for a large swath of the population, not just the folks most dedicated to privacy who are willing to sacrifice lots of functionality. I believe to achieve this goal requires taking practical steps, that may not always be in accordance with a theoretically perfect product, and iterating on that to improve privacy going forward. However, I think the current iteration of Zood Location does an excellent job of balancing privacy with functionality. I take a lot of inspiration from Signal in this regard. Yes, Signal uses telephone numbers as an identifier, but they have enabled message content privacy for millions of people as a result. And it's easy for me to recommend them to anybody I communicate with because "it just works". If I wanted to get my family and friends to sign up with some other theoretically perfect privacy communication system like Element, it would never happen. It's too confusing for them and they would just not use it. They would all end up going back to SMS which is the absolute worst result.

    I do have an open issue to make a configuration of the app compatible with F-Droid's requirements for inclusion, and thus make Google Maps an optional requirement. However, if I focused on trying to achieve that first, Zood Location still wouldn't be available, and the app would be unappealing to most potential users as well.

    Privacy Policy

    We take your privacy very seriously. We take it so seriously that there's not much to put in our policy. In short, we don't track anything you do on this website. No analytics, no hidden pixels, no tracking cookies, no beacons. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. If you have any questions, please contact us.