There’s always been a point at which you need to start paying for Google Maps, but a reshuffle of their structure has made that pay-point feel a lot closer.

Announcing that they are now “Google Maps Platform”, Google sent emails to developers today informing them that they will now need to enter billing information in order to continue using their Maps services. This will also involve picking up a new API key which you’ll need from the 11th June 2018. So, you’ve got a very short breather after GDPR to get all your clients with maps sorted out!

They’re combining their current 18 (!) APIs into just 3 – Maps, Routes and Places – but say that no code changes should be required. The changes are apparently partly in response to developers wanting things to be simpler, with easier access to all their services and a more understandable payment structure.

From the 11th June, a new payment structure will come into play (view the prices table here) but developers (by which I assume they mean everyone who has an API key, not a special secret level for actual developers) will get their first $200 of usage for free. I also take this to be “per API key”, so it’s per project. The reason I queried developers vs. just anyone is that with GDPR in mind, and just general entering-of-billing data I know personally I’ll be ensuring clients create their own Google Maps Platform accounts so they enter their own credit card information.

The email they sent out very helpfully reviewed any existing Maps projects in your account and told you your projected future costs based on the new plan.

Google were keen to point out in their announcement  that they expect most users will fall under the free tier, and that there continues to be no upfront, annual or cancellation cost. They’re also adding free customer support.

The changes also see Google Maps Platform being integrated with Google Cloud Platform Console, whatever that is, “to make it easier for you to track your usage, manage your projects, and discover new innovative Cloud products”. Read: “so we can try and show you other stuff to buy”.

The announcement comes at a time when lots seems to be changing on the web, thanks largely to GDPR. So it’s an understandable time to issue a big change – but I do wonder how many people will have dismissed the announcement email, assuming it was just another privacy policy update.