Google Maps API Receives Transit, Symbols, Heatmap Layers
Google Maps, the satellite imaging service provided by Google, has become one of the most popular map services for a number of activities: whether it's mapping crimes in a city, available apartments or just finding a route from one location to the next, Google Maps has become the go-to service for many users.
Recently, though, Google Maps has come under fire by one of the search giant's biggest rivals, Apple Inc. Apple recently announced that it would be opting to create its own map application that will become that standard for all Apple iOS devices. TomTom is reportedly powering Apple's mapping software, and the compahy will make it especially easy for developers to contribute to.
Not to be outdone, Google has made several modifications to its Google Maps strategy over the past few weeks that will encourage developers to continue to use the service. The new additions were outlined in a seies of recent blog posts made by the Google Geo-Developers team.
Among the new features, public transit data will soon become part of the Maps API, which will enable third-party developers to use the data and create new maps using train, bus and other data. The feature will allow developer to provide users with public transit routes, color-coded transit layers, schedules and more. It will also include information like the number of stops, direction of travel and the type of vehicle used in a given route.
"To support the launch of routing by public transit we're also adding the Transit Layer to the Maps API. For example if you are a retail chain, the Transit Layer allows you to show all the bus major transit lines that run past each store. The Transit Layer can be displayed by enabling the TransitLayer(), it's as simple as that!," wrote Nabil Naghdy, product manager of Google Maps API, in a blog post.
Google has also lowered the price it charges to firms that direct a high-volume of traffic to its mapping service. Google had introduced limits on the API on a small fraction of power-users that were directing a significant amount of traffic to Google's service. Rather the increasing the limit, Google recently -- and drastically -- lowered the price it was charging to firms that were using its Map API at a high-volume.
"There are hundreds of thousands of active Maps API sites, and, overall, since we announced the usage limits last year, we've seen both traffic and the number of sites using the API continue to grow," a Google Spokesperson said. "If you're using a Google Map, you can now use the Directions API web service to add this useful and helpful transit data to your map."
Google also added powerful data visualization with symbols and heat maps in Google Maps API. "The Google Maps API provides a robust platform in which you can add geographical context to your data in a variety of ways. Data visualization is therefore one of the elements at the heart of the Maps API, and today we're introducing two new techniques for visualizing your data in flexible and dynamic ways," said Google in a blog post about the symbols and heat maps. "Unlike the image icons currently used for marking locations on a map, a Symbol is defined as a vector shape. The size, stroke width, color, and opacity of the shape, are all set by the Maps API application and can be dynamically modified. A small number of shapes, such as a circle, are provided by the Maps API, and custom shapes can be expressed as an SVG path."
© 2012 iDigitalTimes All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.