Amazon is once again jumping into the online mapping fray with a new Maps API for Android developers building apps for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets. While it’s just for Android developers at the moment, several of Amazon’s other APIs have started small and grown into web-wide offerings.
Unfortunately, unlike like Amazon’s long since shuttered A9 map tools, it doesn’t appear to actually be using Amazon data. In fact, the new Maps API is really just an API wrapper around Nokia’s maps and geocoding interface, which also now powers the maps on Flickr.com.
Like Apple’s iOS 6, Foursquare and other high-profile Google Maps defectors, the Amazon Maps API seems to exist primarily as an option for those who’d like to avoid the Google Maps API. Amazon’s announcement touts the API’s “simple migration path for developers who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android,” but neglects to mention any benefits developers might gain from dropping Google’s API.
In this early beta offering Amazon’s Maps API doesn’t have any features above and beyond Google’s API. The Amazon Maps API offers most of the same features you’ll find in the Google Maps API, including street maps, satellite images and custom overlays for landmarks and points of interest, but lacks street-view imagery, terrain maps and other features found in Google’s offering.
If you’d like to give the Amazon Maps API a try in your Android app, head on over to Amazon’s new Maps API site to request access.