Changes to the Google Maps API
In recent months you may have noticed many instances of Google Maps not working, displaying a dark overlay with the message – “For development purposes only”. This is due to major changes to the Google Maps API meaning that all uses of the Google Maps API now require an API key and must be linked to a Google Cloud Platform billing account.
To signify the changes, the next generation of Google Maps has been given a new name – Google Maps Platform. The change is designed to simplify the Google Maps offering with the previous 18 individual APIs now combined into three core products – Maps, Routes and Places. The APIs should now be simpler and easier to use, with the promise that existing code will continue to work, causing minimal disruption. While these changes are all important to us as the developers, the most major change from our customers point of view is the change to the pricing structure.
Prior to the changes Google offered two different plans, a standard plan and a premium plan. Now however, they only offer one single pricing plan which has access to free support. The new pricing plan is based on a pay-as-you-go model, so customers only pay for what they use each month.
The good news is, all customers get $200 free credit to use every month, meaning there is no charge until usage has exceeded this amount.
How does this affect you?
With the generous free allowance of $200 per month, the vast majority of small to medium size businesses won’t face any additional charges. Most commonly, we use dynamic maps on our client websites as this allows a range of customisation from simple custom markers and multiple markers to more complex map functionality.
Based on this type of map being used, our customers will have a free allowance of 28,000 map loads per month, much more than the average user will require. In the unlikely event of the 28,000 map loads per month being exceeded, there will be a charge of $7 for every 1,000 map loads. In other very rare circumstances, when map loads exceed 100,000 per month, there will be a charge of $5.60 for every additional 1,000 map loads.
Google estimate that around 98% of users should fall within the $200 limit.
The changes have been met with some disapproval within the developer community with many developers who previously used Google Maps now tempted to use alternative map services such as Mapbox and Leaflet. Despite the negatives of increased administration and potential charges, I feel the changes are mostly positive and will make the Google Maps Platform much easier to use while remaining free for the vast majority of customers.