For Australia Day this year I took a trip with some friends to the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. World renowned for the arts, world class sporting events, and a relaxed cafe culture, it's also well known for what Wikipedia tactfully calls "its changeable weather conditions". Or, as Crowded House described it, "Four Seasons in One Day".

This being the case, it's always good to check the weather forecast, and no weather forecast is complete without a map. Now if you're looking for an interactive map, you are spoilt for choice, but if you would prefer a simple static map to print out or view on your phone it's not so easy. Weather maps need weather symbols, and until now the only choices for marker icons on Static Maps have been the regular Google Maps pins.

Although we love our map pins here at Google, we understand that there are times when you need something different, which is why we're happy to announce that the Static Maps API now supports custom marker icons. Just specify the URL of a PNG, GIF, or JPEG icon in the marker definition, and we'll fetch the icon and add it to your map. We'll cache the icons you specify to maintain performance, and even generate shadows for your icons if you wish:


You can use up to 5 different icons on a single map, each of which can be used for multiple markers, so come rain or shine you can always take the weather with you.

For more details check out the Static Maps v2 API Developer's Guide, and be sure to post any feedback on the Google Maps API Google Group.

P.S. Oh, and one more thing. Requests made to the Static Maps API v2 no longer need a Maps API key.

Which is nice.