This is one of the biggest changes to the platform in recent years and it’ll greatly simplify the Google Maps developer offerings and how Google charges for access to those APIs, though starting June 11, all Google Maps developers will have to have valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account, too.
As part of this new initiative, Google is combining the 18 individual Maps APIs the company currently offers into only three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. The good news for developers here is that Google promises their existing code will continue to work without any changes.
As part of this update, Google is also changing how it charges for access to these APIs. It now offers a single pricing plan with access to free support. Currently, Google offers both a Standard and Premium plan (where the premium plan included access to support, for example), but going forward, it’ll only offer a single one, which also provides developers with $200 worth of free monthly usage. As usual, there are also bespoke pricing plans for enterprise customers.
As Google also today announced, the company plans to continue to launch various Maps-centric industry-specific solutions. Earlier this year, the company launched a program for game developers who want to build real-world games on Maps data, for example, and today it announced similar solutions for asset tracking and ridesharing. Lyft already started using the ridesharing product in its app last year.
“Our asset tracking offering helps businesses improve efficiencies by locating vehicles and assets in real-time, visualizing where assets have traveled, and routing vehicles with complex trips,” the Maps team writes in today’s announcement. “We expect to bring new solutions to market in the future, in areas where we’re positioned to offer insights and expertise.”
Overall, the Google Maps team seems to be moving in the right direction here. Google Maps API access has occasionally been a divisive issue, especially during times when Google changed its free usage levels. Today’s change likely won’t create this kind of reaction from the developer community since it’ll likely make life for developers easier in the long run.