I developed a hiking app about a year ago. In my haste I went with Google Maps Api. For a commercial product, the legal terms were easier to understand. It’s been out on the Google Play Store for almost a year and has a tiny user base. I think in part due to Google’s lack of details in parks and trails. Most parks are just a green squares. Which doesn’t help my user orientate themselves. OSM on the other hand, has plenty of park details.
I initially wanted to build my app using OSM, but like mentioned above. Google Maps API had a very straightforward tile provider. Not to mention the API Console has all sorts of analytics. Google Maps API also has a $200 threshold. Basically if your bill is under $200, they don’t charge you. Which my app never exceeds.
I want to make the jump to OSM. But I’m finding it hard to understand what is need to legally distribute my app. Do I need a paid tile provider? Can I use openstreetmap.org for my app with a tiny userbase? If so, what’s the cutoff limit? How do I find the analytics for that?
Aside for opentopomap.org what other tile providers should devs with a tiny user base consider?
It all depends on what your app is doing. Do you show a live map or do you do bulk downloads for offline use? If you have only a small user base, online use should be fine with most tile providers, while bulk downloads are prohibited and blocked by most as they bascially are a DOS attack on the live rendering.
You need to check every map you want to include separately, for a compatible license and for the usage limits.
Some maps have a “commercial use” license so you can always include them. Some have a “non-commercial” license, so you not use them under that general license.
The limits differ widely depending on how the respective maps are funded. The maps on the OSM main page are OSMF-funded and the OSM usage policies apply only to these maps. The OpenTopoMap is University hosted, the download for live maps is only limited to two parallel threads at a time. Some maps are privately funded and must be much more careful about their resources. You should always get in touch with the map provider before using a map in an app - it’s simply polite.
Thunderforest and MapBox are two commercial providers of OSM tiles that I’m aware of. I’m more familiar with the former, and have included a link to their pricing page which I had handy. You’ll see there’s a free tier for getting started, and payable tiers above that. MapBox would be similiar, I imagine.
Tiles directly from OpenStreetMap websites are discouraged, but tolerated in very small quantities. You run the risk of being cut off without warning. But between the two companies (plus any others I don’t know of), there are lots of styles to choose from.
PS, I don’t think Google will ever catch up to OSM for trail details, so… good choice!