Changes to our Web and Mobile User Interfaces

June 17, 2018 0 Comments technology

You may have noticed a recent change that we made to our search results having to do with Ratings. If you are curious as to why, this blog is for you. Before, we provided Google Ratings for all search results immediately. Now you will need to click on a search result to see those ratings. This is one (of several changes) that we're making to our web and mobile applications to optimize our use of Google Mapping services. These changes are necessary because Google has recently decided to increase their pricing by 1400%. Yes, you read that correctly. Google can do that because they maintain a near-monopoly on high quality mapping and place data which they have matured significantly (with the help of ordinary people via crowdsourcing) over more than a decade.

The Cork Hounds web site and mobile applications are heavily dependent on mapping and place data to deliver our service. We need to geolocate vineyards, connect to place information, and make this data accessible via a map. To achieve this, we must use third party mapping and place data. Ever since we first started Cork Hounds, the pricing for Google's Maps and Placing data has been incredibly low; borderline free. In fact, Google even had a pricing tier for web/mobile applications that charged no money for their services (like us). So, we used these services liberally.

google_current_pricing_home
Screen capture of Google's previous pricing options for use of their Mapping services.

Pricing for these services is based on http calls to web-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Each time a map is loaded or place data is retrieved, Google can meter these requests and charge a fee. For example, under the previous pricing plan, our service could request a Google Map each time the site or mobile application was loaded for free up to 25,000 time per day. Now, Google's new pricing means we can only make 28,000 free map requests per month. That's a significant change, and if you go beyond the new free tier, costs can quickly add up.

google_current_pricing_web_and_places
Screen capture of Google's previous pricing options for use of their Mapping services.

We want Cork Hounds to continue to provide a largely free, high quality service to all dog-owning wine lovers. Price increases like this one by Google do make it difficult to achieve this goal. To that end, we are scaling back on our use of their Services where possible. We recently incorporated advertising (also currently powered by Google), and are developing a Media Kit and custom advertising features in order to offset future costs. And, there is one good side effect of the change to Google's pricing. We are now permitted to sell an ad-free version of our mobile application (which embeds Google Mapping services). This was previously restricted to Google Business and Enterprise users.

We will continue to do our absolute best to provide our users with the best service possible!

Cover Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli / CC BY 2.0

Jeremy Glesner
Virginia Website
Jeremy is a technology executive in the Washington DC area, and the lead engineer for Cork Hounds. Posting stories related to the technological underpinnings of Cork Hounds.