Google Maps API

I am afraid to report that the announcement is not good news. It has already caused some headaches.

Google has slashed the free usage limits for their Maps API and raised the price of their Maps API significantly since 11 June. The cost of using Google Maps API is $200 per month. Prices have increased by approximately 1400%.

You will also need to set up a billing account, and enter credit card details, to continue using their API.

Google Maps API updates will impact anyone who uses Google Maps on their website – even an embedded map. Your company probably has a website.

Below are some key points and links to all relevant articles.

What is it?

Google is announcing the launch of its Google Maps Platform, “the next generation [of] Google Maps business”.

They have combined 18 APIs into three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. These updates won’t affect any existing code.

They claim they have simplified their pricing structure. However, it is highly doubtful that this has been achieved.

The most important changes are:

You will need to create a Google Cloud Platform bill account with credit card details to continue using the API

The monthly API call limit is $200. Dynamic Maps can be used on pages to load around 28000 pages per month, compared to 25000 per day.

The prices have risen dramatically. Google hasn’t yet provided any comparisons, but some sources have estimated it at around 1400%.

Who will it affect?

Almost everyone. Nearly all websites include an embedded Google Map on their website. Since Google removed keyless API usage two years ago, you need to call the Maps API.

Even though the $200 limit won’t affect you, you will still need to create a billing account with your credit card details. This is not something everyone can do easily.

You don’t need to worry if you have an embedded map. Google’s pricing page (which is not very simple and offers little explanation for non-technical users) explains that there is no limit. Google estimates that approximately 98% of users should be within the $200 limit.

The price will go up if you use Advanced Embed, Dynamic Maps or Maps with Street View or any other type of Directions functionality or Autocomplete.

This could make a huge difference if you are currently using Google Maps as a major component of your site functionality.

It is important to note that Mobile Native Static Maps (read Android) and Mobile Native Dynamic Maps are free. Google seems to be protecting Android app developers wisely.

Google has confirmed that you can set quotas to limit your daily usage. This should protect your finances from sudden spikes in traffic or DDoS attacks. This doesn’t change the fact that any map functionality on your website will cease to function once you reach said quota.

What does the Google Maps API change mean, and why should I care?

Google is making a significant but unwelcomed change.

Google Maps is the most popular and widely used map software. It is a very useful tool for both end users and businesses. It has been very cost-effective for businesses until yesterday and was free for end users.

Google appears to have finally cashed in on Maps, first monopolizing it and then increasing the prices

Although it was obvious that Google would eventually seek ways to make this cash cow more profitable, the rapidity and aggressiveness of Google’s changes have been surprising. Google has only given a month for preparations to handle changes that could cripple a company’s website functionality.

It is also not surprising that Google has adopted the same self-protection we have come to expect (in this instance, protecting Android app developers).

The 98% figure is great on paper, but it doesn’t change the fact that these changes could cause major site functionality to be lost for thousands of businesses.

This is a worrying precedent. Google is shifting billing to their Google Cloud platform. Does this mean we will see increased costs for other Google products and platforms in the future? We will only know the outcome of this experiment when it is completed.

Google Maps API changes were a nightmare for companies and digital agencies around the globe. It is becoming so inconvenient that companies can abandon Google Maps completely, which could boost Bing and other search engines.

This will happen on a large scale. Google will have to reassess its position. We are not sure, but we will keep an eye (and be wary) on the developments.

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