july 2012 archives
Monday, July 2, 2012
More custom styles for Google Maps
One of the highlights that came out of Google I/O, the annual developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco, was the announcement of the enhanced Styled Maps features of the Google Maps API. These enhancement allow more fine-grained control over the styling of map features and over the selection of map features to style. Also, the Styled Maps Wizard has been updated to incorporate these enhancements.
Yet, this didn't really come as a total surprise. Leading up to the conference, Google had already dropped the overall pricing websites that made over 25,000 map loads per day. Although this recent 88 percent price cut for default map tiles drew the most attention, the changes from the Google Maps API pricing plans introduced in October 2011 for styled map tiles were actually much more significant:
- The usage limit for styled maps was raised from 2,500 map loads to 25,000 and;
- the price was lowered from as much as $8 (above 25,000 map loads) or $4 (between 2,500 and 25,000 map loads) to just 50¢ per 1,000 excess map loads.
Add to this the new Google Maps Symbols feature, allowing developers to present their data overlays using highly customisable markers and lines on top of Google's base maps, and the overall picture is becoming much more obvious: Google is one-by-one ticking all the boxes with reasons why companies typically decide to build their own mapping servers instead:
- Low usage limits combined with high price per map loads: too expensive.
- Full control over the look and feel of the base maps and overlays.
What will be the next box for Google to tick and will Google indeed be able to successfully stem the recent exodus, marked by Foursquare's adoption of OpenStreetMap and Apple's introduction of iOS6 Maps?