Apple is set to drop Google Maps from its iDevices. Perhaps in response, the search giant has made its Maps API cheaper and easier for others to use. For most folks, there seems to be no cost associated with the API. A site must load at least 25,000 maps for 90 consecutive days to pop up on Google's radar. Even then, there's no guarantee a bill will arrive in the mail.
In a post on its Geo Developers Blog, Google notes that only 0.35% of the sites using its API exceed the free service limit. Those that have to pay can expect much lower prices. Google used to charge $4 for every 1,000 map loads; now, the same number will cost just $0.50.
To simplify things, Google has removed the distinction between normal and "styled" maps. The latter can be configured with custom colors and map features. Styled maps used to have different usage limits and pricing, but they'll now be treated like standard maps.
I've gotta say, Google Maps is one of those things I'd rather not live without. Bing Maps has infected my Palm Pre, and it's bad enough that I'm looking to replace the phone. The new Maps app planned for iOS 6 doesn't look like an improvement over the incumbent, either. The maps are prettier, but they seem to have a lot less information than Google currently provides.