We enjoyed our first stint with Google Maps services in 2010. After 10 years of continuous dependence on Google Maps led lifestyle improvements and industry transformations, it would not be an exaggeration to claim how it has changed the way we navigate through geographies. Google Maps serves directions on transportation methods, sets routes, and gets real-time traffic updates with verbal instructions in addition to much more.
Google also created Google Maps API to help developers integrate the maps into their websites. The next-gen Google Maps API offers more advanced industry-centric solutions to drive innovation. These solutions are tailored for functionalities like asset tracking and real-time ride-sharing. Modern app developers and web developers must embed the new Google Maps navigation experience directly into their projects to optimize their customer experience.
Google Maps has introduced a platform API ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model some time back. The revamped model ensures more flexibility and control for developers who choose to use Google Maps APIs. The developers can use a limited or large section of the API and pay for precisely what they use.
Google Maps Platform has neatly compressed the initial 18 individual API into three core products under the Google cloud tag. As websites and apps use Google Maps API to deliver customized maps, each of the core products comes with a distinct pricing structure.
1) Google Maps – Delivers customized dynamic maps, Street Views, and 360-degree views.
2) Routes – Delivers and captures driving directions and traffic updates.
3) Places – Serves details like location names, addresses, reviews, etc.
The much talked about new Geo-location API helps websites and apps scale quickly as they grow. The new ‘Pay-as-you-go’ model brings together the best of standard and premium plans and offers free customer support.
While initially, developers enjoyed keyless access, the new model mandates having a valid API key to use Google Maps Platform for map calls and other geocoding services. With a valid API key as well as Google cloud platform billing account businesses can access this new version. Keyless access favors returns in the form of errors or low-resolution maps with a watermark that can deteriorate the web or app UX. All businesses need to create a billing account by sharing their credit card details to enjoy access to a valid API key. Once they enable billing, companies can access a free $200 monthly usage plan to leverage Maps, Routes and other Places products.
Initially, Google Maps for Business offered two plans, namely:
A.) Standard Plan
Free usage per day with some additional usage (capped daily) that is billed monthly.
B.) Premium Plan
A yearly, prepaid plan issued against credits-based license without a daily cap on usage. It comes with Google Support.
With the launch of Google Maps platform on July 16th, 2018, there was a shift in policies and implementation. While the Enterprise license users of Google Maps remained unaffected, the users of the standard plan received a few updates with regards to the usage policy. The approved plan users had their daily usage caps restricted to free usage tiers, some got some credits from Google, to facilitate their transition to the enterprise license. Some users made code changes to account for keyless usage.
Users who created Google Maps platform accounts after September 10, 2018, we’re allowed $200 credit per month per API. The $200 credit is divided over a month, which means everyday $6.67 worth of API calls can be made for free.
Google has substantially reduced the base price of Google maps premium plan to assist developers and to promote the adoption of the enterprise license. The new program is of the postpaid kind, and Google Maps APIs users will receive a bill at the end of the month-wise billing cycle, depending on their usage during the interim period.
All web development and app development companies regardless of their usage, are required to have a valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account. These are prerequisites for availing the free $200 credit that facilitates access to not just dynamic but also static maps. The credit line also lets developers leverage easy access to Routes and Places products of the Google Maps Platform. The price hike has had a detrimental impact on businesses, especially the ones that cater to small niches and have a relatively more limited user base.
While it can be challenging to estimate the exact price difference, for most businesses using it, Google Maps API fees are one of the highest single running costs in their business endeavour. Developers with apps or websites that surpass the limit of 25,000 map views per day were required to pay $0.50 per 1,000 additional requests for up to 100,000 per 24 hours, before the price hike. However, the insight of the new changes in the pricing model the 1,000 other applications would cost $7now. Further, the number of free map calls has been reduced from 25,000 per day to 28,000 per month. When it comes to geocoding services, some transactional fees are involved. For example, “Auto-complete per character” requires a minimum price of $2.83 for 1000 calls for up to 70,000 calls per month and for “Places Details”, the minimum amount is $17.00 for 1000 requests, for up to 11,000 calls per month.
When a mobile app development company or a web developer crosses the free credit limit of $200, their credit card is charged with the balance payment. Google doesn’t make any adjustments in the pricing structure for international locations, keeping the pricing uniform throughout the globe.
To give a brief idea, if you make a simple map with a marker, say to point to a particular location, you’ll continue to get it for free under the new system. However, if you are making a more advanced product with the Embed API in Directions, Views or Search mode, you will be up for billing. Even updating the map with any new location details, counts as a separate call.
The Google Maps API price hike can be detrimental for small businesses, but still, some developers like to believe that the benefits that Google brings along are compelling enough to pay the raise. Since Google Maps leverages real-time data that is supplied from its massive user base, it is continually updated with more than 25 million updates and over 20 million user contributions over a single day. Developed with ML capabilities, it promises an optimized experience across devices and entities teams to continue its use despite the increase in the charges and the availability of other open-source alternatives. Development teams appreciate the unique features offered by Google maps in terms of UX and interactivity, which are far more developed when compared to its competitors.
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