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Google Maps "API"

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Some of our Addons require the use of Google Maps. In this FAQ I'm going to explain the different types of Google Maps, how they differ, why you have to pay for some and how we can help set everything up.

Free Google Maps. 

By now, if you've used the internet in the last few years, you've most likely met the free version of Google Maps. You most often see this version of the service on contact pages or on a "popup", mostly to show a location of a shop, or office, or whatever.

In the free version, the map is "static" and non-interactive. Sure, you can zoom in and out, but that's about it if the map shows a location or locations, by way of a pin or pins being added. With the free version you can view the pins, but you couldn't, for instance, search the map for them.

We use the free version of Google Maps on our Locator Lite website element.

 Example: Below is an example of using the free version of Google Maps. To do this, we've simply copied the "embed" code from the Google Maps app and added it to this FAQ page. The map displays the location of our HQ. While you can zoom in and out, you can't do anything else, like search, or get directions, etc.

 

 

In many instances using the free version of Google Maps is fine but sometimes either your requirements are beyond just the basic, or your use falls outside what Google allows it's free version to be used for. In these situations, you need to use the paid-for version of the service, often referred to as the Google Maps API.

What does the "API" bit mean?

API stands for Application Program Interface, without boring you senseless with lots of jargon, it's just a uniform way for various applications to integrate with each other.

Google supplies an API for the Maps service and some of out addons which need the use of a map (beyond the scope of the free services) can connect to this API to offer the required functionality.

A great example of this is our Takeaway Addon, which enables food takeaway and delivery services to take orders online. This addon uses maps to display the location(s) of the food takeaway business and also the delivery area covered.

To see this in action, visit the Takeaway demo page, add something to your cart and progress to the collection/delivery page. If you select a different location for collection, the map will auto-centre and display the address, clicking a pin on the map will automatically select this location of the collection point. For this type of interaction, the free map service won't do, so we have to use the paid-for Google Maps API version. 

The same goes for our Store Locator addon. While our Locator Lite element (linked above) uses the free service, the Store Locator version needs map interaction, so uses the API version. 

Got it? Hopefully, you have. If not, the straightforward bit to remember is that some of our website addons and elements can use the free Google Maps service but some can't, these have to use the API version, which isn't free. Although, for most, it is!

Yes, I know, more confusion. It's not our fault, though, it's down to Google. Read on for details.

Why Google Maps API isn't free, only for most, it is.

If you want to use any of our addons that use a Google Map API, you MUST set up a Google account and you must signup for an API account. Then, you need to get a Google Maps API, and to get that you will need to give Google your credit card details because as I've said, it's not free. Expect for most, it is.

What do I mean? Once you've signed up for the accounthanded over your card details and got your API (don't panic, we'll do all that for you if you want) Google give you a few hundred dollars worth of free credits each month to use before you start to have to pay. The bottom line is that for the vast majority, this free credit more than covers the average usage.

What is a credit? Every time someone lands on your page that uses the Google Maps API, they will use part of or a whole free credit. Once all your free credits are used up, Google will start to charge you.

Think of your API account like your mobile phone account, with loads of free mins for calls. The only difference is that while your mobile phone provider will charge you a flat rate each month to cover the free mins you get, Google doesn't charge for the freebies.

How much "real-world" free usage do I get? As with everything to do with Google putting precise numbers of the amount of "free" you get each month is difficult. Officially you get about $200 of free use a month, and that converts to about 28,000 "calls" per month. But this doesn't include people using a mobile device, as those are free always (Google actively promote the use of mobile devices for internet access).

Suffice to say, for most websites, unless really busy with c.1000+ visit a day, even if every one of those visitors used the map service, it's highly unlikely you'd ever have to pay. Moreover, as most sites get at least 50% of traffic from people using mobile devices which are always free on Google Maps API, the chances of ever incurring a cost are remote. 

But it is a possibility. So, before you opt to use one of our addons that requires a Google Map API, think about your website traffic, and if in doubt, speak to us.

We'll set up your Google API account for you.

 And finally, don't panic about having to set up the Google API account: As with all things, Google it's an absolute nightmare, so if you want we'll do it for you. 

Google Maps "API"

Some of our Addons require the use of Google Maps. In this FAQ I'm going to explain the different types of Google Maps, how they differ, why you have to pay for some and how we can help set everything up.

Free Google Maps. 

By now, if you've used the internet in the last few years, you've most likely met the free version of Google Maps. You most often see this version of the service on contact pages or on a "popup", mostly to show a location of a shop, or office, or whatever.

In the free version, the map is "static" and non-interactive. Sure, you can zoom in and out, but that's about it if the map shows a location or locations, by way of a pin or pins being added. With the free version you can view the pins, but you couldn't, for instance, search the map for them.

We use the free version of Google Maps on our Locator Lite website element.

 Example: Below is an example of using the free version of Google Maps. To do this, we've simply copied the "embed" code from the Google Maps app and added it to this FAQ page. The map displays the location of our HQ. While you can zoom in and out, you can't do anything else, like search, or get directions, etc.

 

 

In many instances using the free version of Google Maps is fine but sometimes either your requirements are beyond just the basic, or your use falls outside what Google allows it's free version to be used for. In these situations, you need to use the paid-for version of the service, often referred to as the Google Maps API.

What does the "API" bit mean?

API stands for Application Program Interface, without boring you senseless with lots of jargon, it's just a uniform way for various applications to integrate with each other.

Google supplies an API for the Maps service and some of out addons which need the use of a map (beyond the scope of the free services) can connect to this API to offer the required functionality.

A great example of this is our Takeaway Addon, which enables food takeaway and delivery services to take orders online. This addon uses maps to display the location(s) of the food takeaway business and also the delivery area covered.

To see this in action, visit the Takeaway demo page, add something to your cart and progress to the collection/delivery page. If you select a different location for collection, the map will auto-centre and display the address, clicking a pin on the map will automatically select this location of the collection point. For this type of interaction, the free map service won't do, so we have to use the paid-for Google Maps API version. 

The same goes for our Store Locator addon. While our Locator Lite element (linked above) uses the free service, the Store Locator version needs map interaction, so uses the API version. 

Got it? Hopefully, you have. If not, the straightforward bit to remember is that some of our website addons and elements can use the free Google Maps service but some can't, these have to use the API version, which isn't free. Although, for most, it is!

Yes, I know, more confusion. It's not our fault, though, it's down to Google. Read on for details.

Why Google Maps API isn't free, only for most, it is.

If you want to use any of our addons that use a Google Map API, you MUST set up a Google account and you must signup for an API account. Then, you need to get a Google Maps API, and to get that you will need to give Google your credit card details because as I've said, it's not free. Expect for most, it is.

What do I mean? Once you've signed up for the accounthanded over your card details and got your API (don't panic, we'll do all that for you if you want) Google give you a few hundred dollars worth of free credits each month to use before you start to have to pay. The bottom line is that for the vast majority, this free credit more than covers the average usage.

What is a credit? Every time someone lands on your page that uses the Google Maps API, they will use part of or a whole free credit. Once all your free credits are used up, Google will start to charge you.

Think of your API account like your mobile phone account, with loads of free mins for calls. The only difference is that while your mobile phone provider will charge you a flat rate each month to cover the free mins you get, Google doesn't charge for the freebies.

How much "real-world" free usage do I get? As with everything to do with Google putting precise numbers of the amount of "free" you get each month is difficult. Officially you get about $200 of free use a month, and that converts to about 28,000 "calls" per month. But this doesn't include people using a mobile device, as those are free always (Google actively promote the use of mobile devices for internet access).

Suffice to say, for most websites, unless really busy with c.1000+ visit a day, even if every one of those visitors used the map service, it's highly unlikely you'd ever have to pay. Moreover, as most sites get at least 50% of traffic from people using mobile devices which are always free on Google Maps API, the chances of ever incurring a cost are remote. 

But it is a possibility. So, before you opt to use one of our addons that requires a Google Map API, think about your website traffic, and if in doubt, speak to us.

We'll set up your Google API account for you.

 And finally, don't panic about having to set up the Google API account: As with all things, Google it's an absolute nightmare, so if you want we'll do it for you. 

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