Updated 10:30 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, September 18
Watch out, Google Maps: Amazon is entering the digital mapping battlefield with its own Amazon Maps API (application programming interface — the code that allows third-party developers to access proprietary software and user data to build their own applications), the company announced in a post on its developer blog on Monday.
Amazon notes that the API is designed for the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets. As the blog post states:
The Amazon Maps API provides a simple migration path for developers who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android. 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.
Though there is no way to view Amazon’s own home-brewed mapping service from the Web or other mobile devices outside of the Kindle Fire line at present, the company’s developer sign-up page provides a list of features that give clues as to the comprehensiveness of location data that Amazon is striving to achieve.
Here’s a screenshot of the various options that developers can check to receive:
Whatever comes of Amazon’s move into the digital mapping space, it can’t be good for Google.
Not only does a heavily-modified version of Google’s Android operating system power the new line of Amazon Kindle Fire devices, making Google Maps the obvious choice for the Kindle Fire, which Amazon seems to have wholly passed up, but Google has also seen other large companies defect away from Google Maps over the past year, including Apple, Foursquare and Wikipedia (on its mobile apps). The departures have led some to speculate that the exodus was spurred by Google’s decision to begin charging for heavy users of its Google Maps API.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices also have Microsoft’s Bing installed as the default search engine on the Kindle Fire Silk web browser - another slight to Google.
Late update: Nokia, the Finland-based feature and smartphone company, has confirmed to The Next Web that it is providing the map data for Amazon’s Maps API.
(H/T: The Next Web)