Amazon today announced on its mobile app developer blog that its Maps API is now available in beta as part of its Mobile App SDK. Like the Google Maps API, it allows app developers to integrate mapping functionality into any app that runs on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets.
Developers can apply now to get access to the API through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal today, and Amazon is providing a “simple migration path” for those who want to switch from the native Google Maps API on Android.
Furthermore, the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD will also support location-based services through the android.location API. From Amazon’s blog post:
Our Maps API offers two core features:
Interactive Maps. You can embed a Map View in your app for customers to pan, zoom and fling around the world.
You have the option to display a user’s current location, switch between standard maps and satellite view, and more.
Custom Overlays. You can display the locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with your own customized markers and pins.
The new API will essentially enable developers to add mapping services to their apps, such as street maps and information about local businesses. It was a notable gap in Amazon’s tablet abilities, which is now being filled.
You may remember that Amazon acquired 3D mapping company UpNext just a few months ago, one of the first signs that Amazon was plotting this move.
Apple also recently dropped support for Google Maps (and YouTube) in iOS6, the latest software powering its popular iPhone and iPad products, replacing it with a – rather impressive – mapping solution of its own.
In the years leading up to the release of iOS 6, Apple had also acquired a number of mapping companies, including Poly9, Placebase and C3 Technologies.
Before Amazon announced the new Kindle Fire(s), Reuters reported that the company teamed up with Nokia for mapping services, essentially snubbing Google, which rivals both aforementioned companies in more than one way.
Although the Kindle Fire devices run a heavily customized version of Google’s Android, Amazon never integrated Google Maps into the tablets because of the restrictions that apply under the existing terms of the service.
The report of the Nokia tie-up hasn’t been confirmed thus far, but clearly Amazon isn’t ever going to go ahead with a separate Google deal just for maps, and the location data has to come from somewhere.
You can follow the discussion about Amazon’s move on Hacker News.
More related reading material if this interests you: