As expected, Amazon has launched its new Maps API, now available to the developer community on the Amazon Mobile App SDK tab in the distribution portal. Developers can now easily integrate mapping functionality into apps that run on its new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets.
This API was actually released when Amazon revealed its new Kindle Fire models weeks ago. Amazon says the new Maps API provides a simple migration path for developers who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android. It contains two core features – Interactive Maps and Custom Overlays – and are described as follows:
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.
You can display the locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with your own customized markers and pins.
The Amazon Maps API is available now in beta, the company said. To gain access to the new API, developers need to apply through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal.
Despite its appearance, the new API isn't based on any proprietary mapping service, but it's likely to be Amazon's first step in locking out Google from its Kindle devices. Amazon recently struck a deal with Nokia who will provide map and geocoding data for the tablets which is the core of Amazon's Maps API.
Nokia revealed on Monday that Amazon is actually licensing its Location Platform (NLP) to Amazon specifically for maps and geolocating. "The Nokia Location Platform is the most advanced mobile location platform with a unique global footprint," said Dr. Sebastian Kurme, a spokesperson for Nokia’s Communications. "It provides maps for almost 200 countries (with more than 100 of them navigable) and provides the best, automotive-grade map quality based on industry-leading technology and more than 20 years expertise in mapping."
Earlier this year, Amazon acquired 3D mapping startup company UpNext. The four-person mapping company was reportedly moved from its New York office to Seattle to lead Amazon's core mapping effort. UpNext was founded in 2007 by high school friends Raj Advani, Vik Advani, Robin Har and Danny Moon who have mostly bootstrapped the company until March 2011, when they raised $500,000.
Back in January, UpNext partnered with Verizon Wireless to release the UpNext HD Maps app for Apple's iPhone, iPad and Android tablets. It covers 50 cities across the United States, 23 of which are 3D enhanced including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and more. The app allows the user to drop down to street level and tap their way to more information about the surrounding buildings, and different views of the area.