Maps V1 Keys: Going, Going, ...

According to the Android Maps v1 documentation:

Note: Version 1 of the Google Maps Android API as been officially deprecated as of December 3rd, 2012. This means that from March 3rd, 2013 you will no longer be able to request an API key for this version. No new features will be added to Google Maps Android API v1. However, apps using v1 will continue to work on devices.

This has several ramifications if you are using the v1 Maps SDK.

First, if your debug key becomes invalid after March 3rd — such as because it expired a year after creation — you will not be able to get a new Maps v1 API key for your new debug key. Recommendation: delete your existing debug.keystore in late February, let the SDK tools regenerate it, then grab a new v1 Maps API key for the new keystore. Then, make a dozen or so backups of the keystore and the Maps v1 API key.

You also should be backing up your production keystore and its associated Maps v1 API key, for much the same reason. Hopefully, you have been doing this already. If not, please stop reading this blog post and go set up a decent backup regimen for your development machine.

If you are a consultant, and you have been using unique keystores (debug or production) for each client, you better stock up on keystores and associated Maps v1 API keys. In theory, assigned API keys should work indefinitely (“However, apps using v1 will continue to work on devices”), so just set up a bunch, enough to tide you over until you will be using Maps v2 for all your new clients.

Similarly, if you take the approach of having unique production keystores per app on the Play Store (e.g., to make it a bit eaiser to sell full rights to the app to some possible buyer), either plan on moving to Maps v2 ASAP or similarly stock up on some keystores and Maps v1 API keys.

Moving to Maps v2, for many apps, should be fairly straightforward. And, as Jeff Gilfelt pointed out, Maps v2 has a comparatively nice API. However, there will be some developers who run into problems with Maps v2, either due to bugs, device support, or API limitations (e.g., no ability to draw() map markers).

That being said, Google really should issue Maps v1 API keys for 12 months, not 3 months, from when Maps v1 was deprecated. Expecting everyone to be able to switch in 3 months — some of which is lost due to holidays — is unreasonable. The V2 API and feature set is sufficient of a carrot to drive developers to want to move; beating developers with the deprecation stick might drive developers to abandon Google’s maps entirely in favor of other solutions with less anal policies. As it stands, I fully expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth starting on March 4th, as developers missed all of these unannounced announcements and get screwed by the lack of available API keys.

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