What's wrong with Google Maps development on Android - Part Two

Written by on April 13, 2011, 7:05 am

Update 5th December 2012 - Android Maps v2

A smaller issue with the Android maps library, but worth mentioning

When I started doing web development with the Google Maps API six years ago, it required an API key. You associated it with your domain and prevented naughty people from doing bad things with the API.

Times have changed. With version three, the key went away. The API was infinitely more awesome than the old one, and this was one tiny part of that. The old key was a little irritating if you had to move code between domains, so not having to worry about it made things that much easier for developers.

"The android:apiKey attribute holds the Maps API Key for your application, which proves your application and signer certificate has been registered with the Maps service. This is required in order to receive the map data, even while you are developing.

So you grab your Maps API key by taking an md5 hash of your signing certificate and submitting it to Google to get your key. There are a couple of things that make this annoying for developers:

  • When you are debugging your application you use the SDK debug certificate, so you will need a different Google Maps key for your dev build.
  • If you are building multiple applications from the same source code, then you are going to have to make sure you have an API key for each one and conditionally compile them in.

Admittedly these are pretty minor irritations, but when you consider that neither the iPhone MapKit or the web API require a key (and I realise there are technical differences here), it seems like an unnecessary one.

This rant continues:

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