DuckDuckGo adds new features to its mapping system, courtesy of Apple Maps
DuckDuckGo, a search engine that takes pride in its focus on privacy, has been beefing up its feature set. We reported last year that the Google-alternative hit a milestone 30 million queries a day, and with its rise in popularity comes a demand for richer features. To that end, DuckDuckGo announced earlier this week that its mapping system was adding a bevy of new tools and improvements.
DuckDuckGo (DDG) announced it would be using Apple’s MapKit JS framework to overhaul its mapping system back in January, and that decision looks to be paying off.
DDG now offers dynamic map re-querying, which will allow users to stay in a selected map view when entering a new search. Previously, a new search would return the user to DDG’s main search page, but new queries can now be made from DDG’s expanded map view, similar to other mapping systems.
DDG”s maps also now include a local autocomplete system, allowing users to retain their localised map view when making a search. Searches will now display local results within the confines of the current expanded map view rather than including a location halfway across the globe.
Other notable (and welcome) changes include a dedicated maps tab on DDG’s main page and support for Dark Mode.
DDG is quick to point out that it will still respect user privacy. This is particularly pertinent to something like a mapping system, which must pinpoint a user’s location to be effective. To that end, DDG has stated that it does not share any personally identifiable information like IP addresses with either Apple Maps or any other third-party. Additionally, it discards the approximate location data of users “immediately after use.”
There has been some community concern about DDG’s use of Apple’s proprietary and closed-source mapping system rather than an open-source alternative like OpenStreetMap. DDG has not commented on the reason why they chose to go with Apple Maps, but the company has repeatedly stated that it neither stores nor shares any personal information with Apple Maps. Apple has stated that it strives to protect user privacy by using randomly generated identifiers that aren’t tied to specific users and are reset every time their system is used.
Previously, DDG used a conglomeration of different mapping services for location-centered queries, including OpenStreetMap, Bing, Here maps, and even Google. The move to a single mapping system has likely streamlined DDG’s mapping features. As the company continues to balance their growing popularity with protecting user privacy, the challenges to include features that are defaults included with other services will continue to grow.