Have you ever used one of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets? If so, you probably quickly started to realize that the Fire OS is so customized and skinned that it essentially feels like its own OS. That being said, at the root it is still just an app-compatible fork of Android.
Amazon continues to try and push what the Fire is capable of. Today that includes launching its own Maps API. Rumors previously suggested that Amazon would be partnering up with Nokia for its mapping solution. It turns out that the company has decided to go at it alone.
The Amazon maps API is currently in beta but looks promising. In Amazon’s own words, the Maps API offers the following:
Interactive Maps. You can embed a Map View in your app for customers to pan, zoom and fling around the world.
You have the option to display a user’s current location, switch between standard maps and satellite view, and more.
Custom Overlays. You can display the locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with your own customized markers and pins.
So why doesn’t Amazon just use Google Maps in its tablets? Integrating Google Maps into the Fire family would mean that Amazon would have to adhere to existing restrictions in Google Maps’ terms of service. Going its own route means more freedom and is just another way that Amazon distinguishes its version of Android from official Google builds.
With no support for the Google Play store, the use of Bing instead of Google Search and the highly custom UI, it’s truly hard to tell you are using Google Android at all. Whether you consider this a good or bad thing is up to you.