What happened to Google Maps

July 21, 2018

On Monday, July 16, 2018 new pricing plan for Google Maps Platform (map and related APIs that Furkot heavily relies upon) went into effect. It is a radical price increase: Google decided to raise the prices tenfold and decrease its free service quotas by 90%.

Starting Monday, July 16, 2018 Furkot is not longer using Google mapping API.

Until now Google's pricing policy made it possible for us to offer Furkot free of charge. The change in pricing means that we are expected to pay about 20 times more than before. Sadly, there is no way we can absorb that much of a cost increase. And since we want to continue offering free access to Furkot, we have no choice but to stop using Google mapping API at this time.

Furkot has been employing Google mapping API to implement the following features, all of which are either switching to a different provider, or are temporarily suspended:

We realize those changes may result in a decrease of Furkot functionality for some period of time. We apologize for the inconvenience. Rest assured we will continue to look for alternatives either using third party services or developing in-house solutions.

Road map

Road map provided by Google Maps Script API is replaced by OpenStreetMap. This is the same map that have been available in Furkot for some time as alternate and offline map. This change covers maps displayed by Published tripshot and Ask for advice board as well.

Street view

Street view is an integral part of Google map and is being suspended until we find a cost-effective way of supporting it again.

Satellite imagery

While Google provides excellent satellite imagery it's not the only provider of this type of data. We will work to bring back satellite imagery either through a cost-effective agreement with Google, or by finding an alternative vendor.

Terrain features (topo map)

We are temporarily suspending a topo map and plan to bring the feature back powered by a different mapping supplier. We hope to find a solution that is better than the one that Google provides.

Routing engine

Routing engine is a workhorse of Furkot. We have been predominantly relying on Google Directions API in this respect but had supplemented its functionality by a selection of others - GraphHopper, MapQuest and OSRM - employed for alternate and seasonally closed routes. We are phasing out Google routing engine and bring the other options to the fore.

We are keeping currently supported routing options (avoid highways and tolls) and travel modes (biking and pedestrian in addition to motorized traffic) in place, although the new engine provided by Stadia Maps has a slightly different coverage and may return different results. We are using this opportunity to improve routing over seasonally closed roads.

Furkot's alternate routes could be used to display routes different from those offered by Google Directions API. With the change of the main routing engine, the alternate and primary routes will be calculated using the same underlying data and consequently may not be different in many cases. We are exploring options offered by routing engines to differentiate the alternate and primary routes.

Google Directions API was fast enough to allow Furkot to display potential routes in real time when dragging stops and route points. The replacement may not guarantee smooth experience in all cases. You will still be able to drag routes and stops, but Furkot will display a potential route less often while dragging.

Geocoding

Google Geocoding API allowed us to convert textual address to geographic coordinates and vice-versa. Luckily there are services specializing solely in geocoding at very reasonable prices. We are looking at a combination of the following vendors as potential replacements: OpenCage Geocoder, GraphHopper, openroute service.

Text search / autocomplete

Furkot was using Google Autocomplete functionality to aid editing stop names and addresses and also in search bar in Ask for advice board. In addition to vendors supporting Geocoding above we are looking at Algolia Places as a replacement to avoid interruption.

Stop elevation / route elevation profile

While are looking for a replacement for Google Elevation API used to display elevation of stops and route elevation profiles, both features are temporarily suspended.

Campgrounds and hotels

Google Places API used to have a generous free limit of 150,000 requests a day. Furkot was using it to supplement its offering of campgrounds and independent hotels, especially in places where our lodging partners fell short.

We are discontinuing Google as a middleman for campgrounds and independent hotels and are working on broadening our selection by striking new direct partnerships.

Restaurants

We are also seeking new partnerships to display restaurants provided until now by Google Places API.

Trip map thumbnails

Trip map thumbnails displayed in the My Trips list are small renderings of trip map. The current implementation is based on Google Maps Static API which allow embedding image representation of maps in a webpage. We are using Stadia Maps as a replacement changing slightly the trip map thumbnails look-and-feel.

Weather overlay on map

We are temporarily removing weather overlay on map and we will consider bringing it back at a later date.