While the Google Maps geocoder API may be the dominant force in location-based services at the moment, it is not the only horse in the race and there are actually a number of intriguing alternatives that you might consider.
Here is a look at the competing geocoding solutions, covering what they have to offer and why they might make sense in place of the incumbent option.
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Arguably the most comprehensive counterpart to Google Maps, the advantages provided by PositionStack include geocoding carried out in real time with information pulled from a global database that covers literally billions of addresses, with daily updates ensuring accuracy over time.
The basic API allows for a fixed number of daily requests free of charge, although if you exceed this amount you will need to sign up for a premium package to unlock its true potential.
If customisation is important to you, the flexibility offered by Mapbox could make it the right geocoding solution to select. It not only lets you draw from a large pool of up-to-date geographic info, but also gives you the opportunity to add your own details if you wish.
Another of the perks it brings to the table is compatibility with augmented reality, which can bring a new dimension to navigation capabilities that you want to integrate with your website or app.
Aimed at enterprise users but accessible to anyone, LocationIQ has managed to win over a number of big players in the tech business, including Amazon and Uber.
The big selling point here is scalability, meaning that it is suitable for users whether they want to process a few thousand requests each day or several billion. This also translates into variable pricing, making it affordable as well as effective.
As well as handling geocoding well, there are a host of features found in Geoconcept which make it well suited to those who want to optimise their fleet management and make sure that delivery routes are handled as efficiently as possible.
It makes it easy to assess and analyse performance over time, schedule operations sensibly and make on-the-fly changes as necessary. Like most of the other platforms of this kind, it can also be taken for a test spin without costing any cash up front.
If you absolutely have to use a geocoding API that is free of charge, this is the one to consider. It is especially well equipped for web-based apps and can also be combined with other databases to deliver a wealth of different capabilities, depending on what you need.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that OpenLayers is open source and has a great community of committed developers involved in improving it, meaning that there is also a large community available to help provide advice if you are a newcomer.
With a straightforward name and a reputation for being a top-flight location platform covering hundreds of nations and hundreds of millions of addresses, Here has a lot to boast about.
The frequent daily updates mean that its geocoding capabilities are both accurate and precise, as well as coming with plenty of details that you might not find elsewhere.
Here is used to track everything from weather conditions and air quality to the usage of electric vehicle charging stations and much more besides.
It also has especially rich visualisation tools, which means that if you want to distil and digest data in a way that is easier to understand, this is all achievable.
As the location-based services market continues to enjoy double-digit growth, platforms like Here will only become more important.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!