Powerful Alternatives to Google Maps API

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The geo-location services offered by Google Maps has over the years made it people’s favorite. It has been the go-to choice for developers for years now, the reason being the geographical features database that is expansive. Its features are hard to beat; it includes even street images and small businesses all around the world. According to Bush (2018), Google hiked its map API rates severely in July, the year 2018. Before the prices increased, as Bush (2018) states, a person could do up to 25,000 free displays of maps daily. Every subsequent 1,000 map displays were charged at 0.50 US dollars. After the hike, one is only permitted up to 20,000 displays of maps every 30 days. The charges for every subsequent 1,000 now amounts to 7.00 US dollars, and this is 14 times more. After using up all the 28,000 free map displays, Google then defaults to charging the developer’s credit card. These charges have led to most of the developers setting daily limits for their applications, which translates to a beautiful blank screen for the users.

These charges have become very expensive for small developers. The pricing changes push the Google Maps API beyond being affordable. INCO Alliance Company has seen it a wise move not to deny its clients who use their applications the service. The step is purposely for bettering the geo-location data services in a more efficient way, both to the company and the end user. The company is considering using other options for the daily fix of your geo-location data. There are currently five options the company has found to be better than the Google Map API. These options are TomTom that is the best for navigation, Mapfit that is best for accuracy, OpenLayers which is the best for affordability, HERE for map visualizations, and finally Mapbox for custom maps.

TomTom Maps APIs permits you to build easily the applications that need to be location aware. It has availed different cross-platform REST APIs and SDKs to enable you to create both mobile and web apps with mapping, routing, search, navigation, and traffic features. It has a Search API, Routing API, Maps API, Traffic API, and Maps SDK (TomTom, 2019). The Search API helps in searching and geocoding a place or an address. It uses auto-completion and fuzzy matching algorithms to render a perfect query interface that directly interacts with the end users. The available endpoints are search, geocoding, reverse geocoding, and filters. The Routing API helps in route planning from A to B, putting into consideration both real-time and historical conditions of the traffic. It, therefore, gives accurate travel information for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle drivers. Its available endpoints are routing batch and matrix. Maps API enable interactive and static maps to be displayed in any web or mobile application. The parameters available for Maps API are raster and vector. The Traffic API displays traffic information in different flavors and styles. It visualizes the level of congestion, blocked roads, traffic jams, closures, and many others. Its available endpoints are traffic flow and traffic incidents. Lastly, Maps SDK permits one to integrate TomTom services easily into your mobile or web applications through a client library. It helps the developers to boost productivity through its entirely easily customizable and changeable components. Maps SDKs are available for iOS, Web, and Android.

Mapfit boasts of its accurate mapping data. Mapfit’s core mapping platform can conflate, correct, normalize, and spatially align the standard sets of data within a few meters of ground truth. Mapfit’s mobile app can take a simple photograph, and this photograph helps the delivery teams to refine the data of doorway location, identify the entrances of the secondary buildings, and note the waypoints of the pedestrians and loading docks (Mapfit, 2018). Mapfit cloud validates the data and makes it available to the users of Mapfit in a matter of minutes. Mapfit also can use computer vision and convert it into mapping data. New critical navigation elements and doorways are identified by computer vision processing, uploading, and publishing real-time changes in maps. Every geocode can return waypoints, pedestrian primary and secondary entrances, entrances into garage parking, a corrected polygon of a building, and loading docks.

The third option, OpenLayers, is a library that has a high performance and packed with features to help you in mapping. It makes it easy putting a dynamic map in a web page. It can display vector data, map tiles, and markers from any source. OpenLayers has been created to further all kinds of geographic information use (OpenLayers, n.d). It has no charges, and it is free. It has various great features as follows. It has tiled layers, which enables you to pull tiles from MapBox, OSM, Stamen, Bing, and any other XYZ sources available. It also supports untiled layers and OGC mapping services. The second feature is the vector layers, which lender vector data from KML, GeoJSON, Mapbox, TopoJSON vector tiles, and others. OpenLayers is also a cutting edge, fast and mobile-ready. It leverages WebGL, Canvas 2D, and other latest HTML5 greatnesses. It supports mobile out of the box and helps in building custom profiles that are lightweight – containing only the needed components. Lastly, OpenLayers is easy to extend and customize. It helps you to style the map controls through a CSS that is straight-forward. You can also hook in various API levels and even use 3rd party libraries in customizing and extending functionality.

HERE has various APIs for different uses (HERE, 2019). HERE Map Data aims at solving one of the biggest challenges of data, which is creating an always accurate, rich, and fresh digital representation of reality. It is one of the top mapping innovations that has served governments, businesses, and automotive OEMs for decades; they need the most accurate intelligence of location. HERE uses leading industrial processes, cutting-edge technology, and a global team of skilled cartographers, programmers, geo-technicians, and engineers. HERE Maneuver Assist assists the drivers in navigations through bad weather, heavy traffic, and complicated intersections with its visual insights that are clear. It represents a scalable and flexible solution for meeting the needs of personal and commercial vehicles through the use of a pre-set template linking to existing map data. It is even more flexible because of its customizability and higher coverage. HERE Places Footprints uses its hyper-intelligent and ultra-precise location technology to take things to a new level. It creates a connection between the places frequently visited and the building they are contained in, enabling more targeted services and products and a new value of the business in turn. HERE Cellular Signals enhances and supports both broadband and communication industries. In the logistics and transport space, drivers and dispatchers require a more effective and efficient connection than ever. HERE Cellular Signals delivers quality data, enabling the personnel to make better plans, decisions, and more precise analyses, also responding faster to events.

The final option is Mapbox, which is a platform of live location. Mapbox’s tools help the developers to create a new world that is powered by location data (Mapbox, n.d). It has location search, embed extensible, turn by turn directions, and custom maps that have been built on an over 420 million user network every month. It also has the navigation tools to help the end users arrive faster, and it has a real-time asset tracking and routing that is backed by ETAs that are traffic-aware and ultra-fast. Its map augmented reality defies the reality. Its points of interest are games, data for live location, and global object persistence for multi-user AR experiences. It helps in making better decisions because of its fast and flexible tools for geospatial data visualization.

In summing up, Google Maps API has, for many years, been the developers’ choice, favored for its expansive geographical database features all around the world that is unmatched. In July 2018 however, the rates for the Google Maps API were hiked to 14 times the previous rates. Any map displays per the set period exceeding the maximum displays allowed to have extra charges. As the INCO Alliance Company, we develop both mobile and web applications, which would need geolocation access to be used by the end users. The pricing changes for the Google Maps API brought the need for the developers to think of other options. The chosen options for the INCO Alliance Company are the OpenLayers, TomTom, Mapbox, HERE, and Mapfit. Each of these five alternatives has its strengths that make them unique in a special way. TomTom is the best for navigation purposes because it can not only be used for map displays, but also traffic density, location searches, and the best routes between places. OpenLayers is the best when it comes to affordability issues as it is entirely free. Mapfit boasts of its accuracy, with its number one goal being to develop ultra-accurate maps up to the doorway. HERE has its pride on its map visualizations, with its mapping tools’ quality that lives up to being the undisputed location ecosystem leader, being uploaded on a near-daily basis. Mapbox comes in handy when you need custom maps, offering maps, navigations, location searches, and custom map features. These are the top options for INCO Alliance to replace the expensive Google Maps APIs.

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