Google has started to monitor usage of it Maps API and at the same time has announced reductions in the charges for exceeding the free daily usage tier.
Google's announcement in the Geo Developer's blog highlights the good news - it has simplified and lowered the fees it charges for using Google Maps. The new fees are $0.50 per 1,000 map loads, down from $4 per 1,000 map loads. While this is a generous reduction, many developers are still annoyed that Google introduced usage limits and fees last October having allowed apps to make use of Google Maps for free prior to that.
Monitoring of usage limits started on June 22 and isn't automated - and developers who face excess usage fees (about one in 300 sites of those currently using the Maps API) are encouraged to "discuss their options".
Another simplification announced by Google is that there will no longer be any difference in the fees charged for customized maps as opposed to standard maps. Until now, apps that made use of maps with a customized appearance had to pay fees after 2,500 daily map loads, while those accessing standard maps began paying fees after 25,000 daily map loads. The new limit is 25,000 map loads no matter what the map appearance and fees are only imposed on apps that exceed it every day for 90 consecutive days.
The news is likely to be just the first of a number of announcements for developers at this week’s I/O developer conference, much of which will be streamed live. One likely reason behind Google’s changes to the fees is the effect the fees have had since their introduction. While Google estimates that just 0.35 per cent of sites accessing the maps will be subject to fees, many developers have moved away from Google to open- source options, including some big names such as foursquare and StreetEasy. Apple has also said that it will be moving to use its own maps; until now, Google has paid Apple to use Google Maps as the default choice in Apple iOS. Apple demoed its new in-house maps at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month.