Way back in 2016, keen-eyed Apple.com visitors spotted something interesting: The same Apple-generated maps that had long been available in iOS mobile apps were showing up on the company’s website.
It took quite a while, but Apple last year made the same capability public. At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2018, Apple announced that a new “Mapkit JS” map embedding toolkit for websites was becoming available in beta form.
With steady progress having been made since Mapkit JS can now be regarded as a full-featured alternative to Google Maps. There are quite a few good reasons to consider using Apple’s Mapkit JS either alongside or instead of Google’s API to embed maps on websites.
Apple and Google Play “Good Cop, Bad Cop” With Map APIs
Coming on top of other changes like the elimination of key-free API access, the changes worried many web designers. When Apple announced the release of a beta form of its Mapkit JS product only a month later, interest was naturally intense.
A Better Option for Many Websites and an Equally Good One for Others
There are some excellent reasons to consider using Apple’s alternative to Google Maps to embed maps on a website. Taken together, in fact, some of these benefits can even contribute to the holy grail of improved Google search results placement:
- Apple’s iOS phones still rank high on best-seller lists, particularly in wealthy, technologically advanced markets. Devoted iPhone users will inevitably appreciate the familiar look, feel, and functionality of Apple Maps that are embedded on websites. That can lead to longer session times and reduced bounce rates, factors which contribute to higher rankings in Google’s search results.
- The designers at Apple are legendary for reasons which can be seen in a cartographic form in embedded Apple maps. Websites that feature the kinds of clean, elegant design Apple is known for will always look even better when the maps embedded into them are similarly successful.
- Despite now charging significant sums for the privilege of embedding them, Google heavily leverages its Maps to drive traffic to its other services. Apple does the same with its Mapkit JS maps, but iOS users will probably prefer the destinations they get directed to. Many website visitors will welcome integration with familiar, Apple-provided services like directions and search.
- Although the final details have yet to be announced, the beta version of Apple’s Mapkit JS is currently available under a generous free plan. Each developer account is allotted up to 250,000 daily map impressions without charge. Google does offer every dev $200 of free Maps API credit each month, but that translates, for example, into only about 28,000 dynamic map views every thirty days.
- Developers who are already familiar with Apple’s way of doing things on the software side could find Mapkit JS especially easy to come to terms with. As a toolkit that is still under active development in the march toward its official release, Mapkit JS feels to some a bit more modern than Google’s Maps Embed API.
- As Google and other technology giants have proved many times over, relying too heavily on a single company can prove costly. When Google announced the significant changes to its Maps API pricing last year, it was the only game in town as far as many developers were concerned. Incorporating Apple’s Mapkit JS into websites, even alongside Google Maps, will do away with this all-too-common vulnerability.
Embedding Apple Maps Could Drive More Traffic to Your Website
While some of these benefits will apply mostly to developers themselves, others can easily have a more global impact. Google’s search engine results ranking algorithms increasingly prioritize metrics that correlate with improved user experiences and satisfaction. Search Engine Optimization is certainly a major benefit here.
If embedding Apple Maps into your website makes its pages easier for visitors to use and more appealing and informative to them, you could very well see its search results rankings increase. That will translate into more traffic from Google, the same company that worried so many developers with its own map-related announcements in 2018.
Coupled with the behind-the-scenes improvements that can come from adopting Mapkit JS, this should have many developers looking into the technology. Even if only to offer visitors a choice between two options, there are plenty of reasons to consider embedding Apple Maps in your website right now.