Here we took a surface-level view at various APIs for the development of a multiple-destination routing application. The user would enter a route, and select 'on-the'way' restaurants, businesses, landmarks, points of interest, etc. The application would be designed for exclusively for iOS.
Mock-up of proposed routing application.
Both mapping and review APIs (business ratings) were of interest for this particular app. There are several considerations:
1. Use native application or alternative?
After an initial debacle in 2013, Apple has improved its mapping services. New imagery and data is being uploaded daily and Yelp reviews are now integrated into the app. Being the native map application, it does have fast performance. Despite this, there are still some issues with routing and you can’t create multiple destinations making it irrelevant right now for an ‘on-the-way’ app, at least without including some external libraries.
2. Multiple-destination routing.
While most services provide driving and walking directions, several major map APIs are designed for single-destination routes. Realistically, when I used a personal routing service I often want to see if I can get gas or stop for coffee, beyond just getting from point A to point B. Nokia Here, as well as Apple Maps have this single-destination limitation and would need a work-around for additional destinations.
(Edit: With this particular app you could simply code a combination of separate routes to multiple destinations. Still, it is a useful indicator of the level of performance with more advanced routing APIs.)
3. Proprietary versus Open.Google certainly stands out as the ideal platform to build on. It is an all-in-one solution and a programmers dream. However, Google has strict control over design and can potentially get costly down the road. In my opinion, Bing, Nokia Here, and Yahoo simply don’t compare in terms of data, services, or users and all seem to be struggling to revamp and compete. An open-source combination is a viable option, however, giving the power of advanced routing APIs like MapQuest that use the extremely detailed and current OpenStreetMap at little or no cost.
MapQuest advanced routing services provide
multiple destinations and driving directions.
3. Review focus.
Are you interested in all locations, just businesses, or restaurants and convenience stops? Yelp has a top-tier database for the latter. Google Places arguably has a broader range and you verify your account, usage limits on the API are 100k per day.
- Google Maps and Places review services
- No need for plugins. All necessary services, data available
- Potential (rising) costs over time and ownership issues
- No customization
- Free! All required map data/services
- Leaflet/MapBox +MapQuest + OSM
- Plugins required, build from bottom up (specialized programmers)
- Highly customizable
- Yelp review service
- Apple Maps+MapQuest
- work around the native API
- OSM+Google Places
- opt for alternative review service if Google cost becomes too high
Platinum-level custom application.
- Cloudmade+Yelp (+10M/month)
- $$$! ($1,500/month and up)
Here is some quick background research for reference: