Google Maps Terms of Service Opens Mobile Uses, Adds Advertising

Changes to an API Terms of Service (TOS) are an inevitable part of API operations, and as API owners work to evolve their APIs, changes can often be at odds with the community. As some API seem to struggle with the best way to update, Google's approach appears to be more balanced. Google just updated its TOS for Google Earth and its popular Google Maps API.

According to Google, these recent changes are meant to encourage wider use of the APIs in mobile applications, opening up Google Maps APIs to all mobile developers. Until now mobile developers have had to purchase a Google Maps API premier license to show Google Maps outside of web browser.

Mobile developers now can freely use Google Maps in commercial applications, but not without limitations:

  • Applications going forward will display advertising in all mobile maps
  • Applications will have limits on the number of maps that can be generated per day

The terms of service changes open up access to all developers, while also increasing Google’s mobile advertising reach in the same move. The way Google approached this TOS update, represents a more balanced approached, by giving something to its community, while also taking care of its API business. Empowering API developers and monetizing an API ecosystem is a tough balance. Is Google approaching in a more healthier way than Twitter?

Review all changes in the Google Maps API terms of service, and decide for yourself.

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Apple Goes Big With Twitter Integration in iOS 5