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What are Mapping APIs?
A web mapping API (Application Program Interface) allows you to communicate and integrate with existing map services, so you can develop a new application or expand the functionality of an existing one. These APIs usually include classes for maps and layers to make it easy to create, edit and display a map without needing to code all of the low-level logistics.
Continue reading below to see some of the top free map and geocoding APIs.
List of the Best Mapping & Location APIs
Here are some of the top paid and free web map APIs we’ve reviewed:
1. Google Maps
Google Maps is the biggest player in the web mapping space. With a large library of related APIs and extensive documentation, it’s not a surprise that millions of third-party applications take advantage of Google’s mapping tools.
The main Google Maps API is no longer available. Instead, Google has split its mapping services into multiple function-specific APIs. List of Google Maps Location APIs include:
- Google Geocoding API – Converts addresses to geographic coordinates, and vice versa. Popular endpoints include addressToCoordinates, which converts a free form address to a set of latitude and longitude coordinates, and getAddressComponents, which converts a free form address string to an object with different properties like street number or country.
- Google Places API – Provides more detailed information about a specific place. Popular endpoints include getImageURL, which returns the URL for an image of the place, and getNearbyPlaces, which lets users search for places in a specified area.
- Google Timezone API – Provides time zone data for any location. Endpoints include getLocalTime, which calculates the local time, and getTimeZone, which returns time zone data for a specific point.
- Google Maps Distance Matrix API – Calculates distances and travel times based on start and destination points, including options for different modes of transportation such as driving, public transit, walking or cycling. Endpoints include getDrivingDistanceMatrix, which returns a distance calculation based on the road network, and similar endpoints for the other modes of transportation: getTransitDistanceMatrix, getWalkingDistanceMatrix, and getBicyclingDistanceMatrix.
- Google Maps Driving Directions API – Provides directions between locations, including options for different modes of transportation such as driving, public transit, walking or cycling. The main endpoint is Directions, which returns step by step directions between any two addresses.
How to get a Google Maps API Key
- Open the Google API Console.
- Select your project or create a new one.
- Click Continue to enable the API.
- The API key will be displayed on the Credentials page.
Google Maps Pricing & Usage Limits
Google Maps API pricing is based on monthly usage, and is priced per 1,000 calls. Google also offers $200 free usage every month. Example prices include:
- Static Maps – $2.00 per 1,000 calls
- Directions – $5.00 per 1,000 calls
- Basic Places Details – $17.00 per 1,000 calls
Continue reading below to find some Google Maps API alternatives.
2. Bing Maps
Bing Maps is Microsoft’s entry into the mapping arena. The company is continually adding features and improvements to the Platform in an effort to compete with Google’s popular services. The Bing Maps API provides a range of features, including:
- interactive maps
- static maps
- route data
- traffic information
- high-resolution aerial imagery
- 3-D city imagery
- and spatial data sources for storing and querying data with a spatial component, such as store locations.
Popular endpoints include calculateRoute, which returns detailed walking, driving or transit route information between locations and getImageryMetadata, which returns metadata such as URLs and dimensions for images hosted by Bing Maps.
How to get a Bing Maps API Key
- Open the Bing Maps Dev Center.
- Select My Keys in the My Account section.
- Select Create a New Key and enter the requested information about your application.
- Click the Create button.
Bing Maps API Pricing
Bing Maps offers a wide variety of licensing programs, including Open Value, Open Value Subscription, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement, Select Plus, and Enterprise Agreement. Bing typically does not publish its pricing structure, but it does note that subscription based programs start at 100,000 transactions per month for $4,500.
Mapbox is an open source map API that allows developers to create custom maps with unique features like:
- custom markers
- and vector tiles.
Mapbox also offers extensive and easy-to-follow API documentation.
Endpoints include getDrivingDuration, which returns the travel duration by car, getWalkingDuration, which returns the travel duration by walking, and getCyclingDuration, which returns the travel duration by bicycle.
How to get a Mapbox API Key
Mapbox uses Access Tokens to allow access to its APIs and SDKs. These Tokens associate API requests with your account and can be created on your account’s Access Tokens page.
Mapbox offers plans ranging from a free starter plan to a high-volume enterprise plan. Example prices include:
- Free up to 50,000 map views per month in a web app or 50,000 monthly active users in a mobile SDK
- $0.50 per 1,000 directions requests
- $499 per month for commercial licensing
The Foursquare API goes beyond the basic mapping services and incorporates data for user/merchant interactions. Foursquare offers comprehensive and well-organized documentation and a robust set of client libraries created by Foursquare community members.
How to get a Foursquare API Key
- Open your Foursquare Developer Account.
- Create a new Foursquare App.
- Your Client ID and Secret Key will be displayed.
Foursquare API Pricing
Foursquare offers multiple pricing tiers for developers. Example prices include:
- Free for non-commercial use, up to 99,500 regular calls and 500 premium calls
- $599 per month for a basic commercial account, plus $0.001 per regular call and $0.06 per premium call
- Enterprise-level commercial pricing (unpublished)
Fencer allows you to create geofences for web apps, mobile apps, and IoT devices. A geofence is simply a boundary of latitude and longitude coordinates, which can be used by apps to make decisions based on whether a device or location point is inside or outside the boundary.
How to get a Fencer API Key
- Sign Up/Open your Fencer account.
- Scroll to the Your API Key section.
Fencer API Pricing
Fencer plans are priced in British pounds, and range from free beta plans to enterprise level packages. Example prices include:
- Free up to 2,000 daily requests
- £25.00 per month Professional plan for 10,000 daily requests, 10 public geofences and 5 private geofences
- £100.00 per month Enterprise plan for 100,000 daily requests, 75 public geofences and 50 private geofences
Mapillary is a street-level imagery platform developed by a collaborative network of users. The API allows you to collect and share street-level images and map locations based on user-provided photos.
How to get a Mapillary API Key
- Open your Mapillary account.
- Select API Key from the navigation menu.
Mapillary offers annual price plans based on the length of road network and the types of data needed, such as images, traffic signs and object labels. Example prices include:
- $2,000 per year for imagery only on a <1,000 km road network
- $9,600 per year for imagery and traffic signs on a <5,000 km road network
- $50,000 per year for all data on a <10,000 km road network
The Yandex Maps API includes three products: Yandex Geocoder, Yandex Places and Yandex Static. The company offers comprehensive documentation and a library of open source plugins that extend the functionality of the API.
How to get a Yandex API Key
The Yandex API Key is used only in commercial versions of the API.
- Go to Yandex Developer’s Dashboard.
- Scroll down to API Key section.
Yandex API Pricing
Yandex plans are priced in Russian rubles. Example prices include:
- Free plans for applications that meet Yandex’s non-commercial requirements
- 120,000 rubles per year for up to 1,000 daily requests
- 1,000,000 rubles per year for up to 100,000 daily requests
YAddress is a correction and geocoding API that performs address data cleansing and location mapping in a single-pass process.
The main endpoint is /address, which returns the full set of address data.
How to get a YAddress API Key
- Free tier users can get the API key directly from the YAddress web site here.
- Paid account users can access the API key through their account dashboard.
YAddress offers multiple pricing plans based on usage volume, and custom pricing for more than 150,000 transactions per month. Example prices include:
- Free for first 1,000 transactions
- $10 per month for 1,000 transactions per month, with additional transactions at $0.01 each
- $50 per month for 7,500 transactions per month, with additional transactions at $0.0067 each
- $300 per month for 85,000 transactions per month, with additional transactions at $0.0035 each
AmeniMaps API is a collection of Android Maps that locates amenities like public restrooms, ATM machines, subway entrances, etc. AmeniMaps can be used offline in locations where 3G or Wi-Fi internet connection isn’t available.
The main endpoint is Get amenity locations, which returns the full set of amenity data.
How to get a AmeniMaps API Key
The AmeniMaps API key is only available by signing in to your AmeniMaps account.
Pricing information is not available for AmeniMaps.
10. Yelp API
The Yelp API allows developers to access a wealth of business data from the extensive Yelp database, which includes over 50 million businesses in more than 32 international markets.
Popular endpoints include getBusinessReviews, which returns up to three reviews of a selected business, and matchedBusinesses, which allows you to match business data from other third-party sources against business information available through Yelp.
How to get a Yelp API Key
- Open your Yelp Developer account.
- Go to Create App and enter the requested information about your application.
- Click the Submit button.
The Yelp API is free up to 5,000 API calls per day, resetting every day at midnight UTC. Additional API calls can be requested by contacting Yelp directly.
Summary: Best Mapping APIs
|Map API||Imagery||Driving Directions||Free Tier||Est. Price per 1,000 Calls|
|Google Maps||Yes||Yes||$200 free usage per month||$0.50 and up|
|Mapbox||Yes||No||Up to 50,000 map views per month||$0.50 and up|
|Foursquare||Yes||No||Up to 99,500 regular calls and 500 premium calls||$1 for regular calls, $60 for premium calls|
|Fencer||No||No||Up to 2,000 daily requests||Less than £0.0001|
|Mapillary||Yes||No||No||$2,000 per year minimum|
|Yandex||No||Yes||Must meet non-commercial requirements||120,000 rubles per year|
|YAddress||No||No||First 1,000 transactions||$10 and up|
|Yelp||No||No||Up to 5,000 API calls per day||Free|
Do you agree with our list of mapping APIs or do you have a suggestion for one that isn’t included here? Let us know in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.