Written by Giles Bennett
...because the chances are high that if your site uses Google Maps at the moment, it'll stop working coming 11th June.
Staggeringly, the Google Maps API has been around for 13 years - over the years it has sprawled into eighteen different APIs covering subjects as diverse as geolocation, distance matrices, directions, Street View and much much more. In an effort to simplify things, these are being reduced down to three core areas : Maps, Routes and Places.
The problem, though, is that at the same time as simplifying things, Google is making two things obligatory. Firstly, all access must be via an API key, and secondly, the account with which that API is associated must have billing set up and a valid credit card on file.
As with, say, Amazon AWS, the account comes with a free tier of usage which covers the first $200 (at the moment it's not clear what the GBP equivalent will be) of usage in a calendar month, and arguably this will be sufficient for most bog standard implementations of Google Maps. But it's not that which is the problematic aspect - without an API key.
The issue is where the implementation that is currently in place does not already use an API key. For many users, the integration with Google Maps will come via a third party extension - think a store finder or address finder plugin - or a ready-made theme for Wordpress, Magento or any one of the myriad of other platforms. The actual integration will be hard-coded deep down in the code, and likely will not be editable via a nice, convenient, spot in a control panel. So either the module, theme or extension will have to be updated, or someone's going to have to roll up their sleeves and edit the code. And we know which reckon will be the case.
So, with just about a fortnight left before the change comes into effect, we recommend that you have a really good trawl through your website, and if there's any hint that it's integrating in any way with Google Maps, get in touch with us to make sure that come 11th June you don't suddenly get a nasty surprise.