Google Places and Maps

Today, I’d like to talk a little more about a tech subject. Something near and dear to me. A short while ago (earlier last year) Google decided to make a massive price hike in their location API services. This article details it pretty well.

Needless to say, a lot of people were up in arms about it, and not without of reason. Google restructured the “free” tiers to their API, and then they made changes to how the pricing was calculated. The result of their changes for most companies equated to a 1,500% increase in cost! That is a staggering cost to come out of left field. Where I worked was no exception, and in September I began hurrying to find a solution.

Before I get much into the solution, I think I’d like to make a quick commentary on Google’s move as a whole. To be fully honest, I’m not particularly a fan of Google. As much as people tend to malign companies like Microsoft, companies like Google have this “squeaky clean” image. In reality Google is every bit as predatory, malicious, and manipulative and any other “big tech” company. In fact, probably more so. And the fact that their “nice guy” routine is believed by many, in my opinion, makes them more dangerous.

One thing I’ve long said is that Google is, in many ways, destroying the web. Their goal is to have everyone completely dependent on them, and not have any other options. Then they can corner the market on everyone. And to some degree they have succeeded. The location services are one example, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are another, and there are more. The openness of the internet is rapidly becoming Google’s way or no way.

In light of that, I worked on a solution to my company’s problem. The solution, for me, was to first find out how people were using location services. So for that, I logged the location search submissions. My results we’re really quite shocking.

Once I determined how people were searching, I was able to “replicate” much of that functionality without Google, and without any notice to our customers. There are still improvements to be made, but I was able to reduce our usage of the Google location API’s by about 80%. Given time I’d like to drop it altogether from our usage. But these things take time.

Until next time.

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John is a developer, designer, and photographer.

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