The Google Maps API is truly an international product with coverage from Hanoi, Vietnam to Lahore, Pakistan and everywhere in between. Like the extensive coverage of Google Maps (thanks in part to user generated edits via Google Map Maker), our developer community is internationally extensive as well! Google developers exist in just about every country and our Google Technology User Groups (GTUGs) have over 253 chapters around the world! To celebrate the global nature of Google Geo APIs and its developers, this month we’ve decided to highlight five great Geo API implementations from developers aus Deutschland! (that’s ‘from Germany’ for non-German speakers :)

Street View Live from Lufthansa

Lufthansa, Germany’s national airline, flies to many destinations in Europe. To help travelers discover Europe and encourage them to plan a vacation, Lufthansa has plotted all their destinations out on a map and linked them to famous spots via the Street View API. For example, by clicking on the Paris icon, users will be taken to Street View imagery of the Eiffel Tower to entice them to travel to the City of Lights., built by Toursprung from Austria and Germany, allows cyclist to view and share bicycling routes from all over the world. Users can rate routes, mark their favorites, send the GPS coordinates to a mobile device, suggest changes to routes, and even share the routes on social media sites. Each route includes details about the distance, surfaces, and difficulty. To help cyclists better understand the terrain the site has an interactive elevation bar. A similar effect can be achieved using the Google Elevation API.

McDonalds Store Locator

The German online destination for McDonald’s features a very nice store locator built on the Google Maps API. Very similar to another store locator built by German company, Hugo Boss, this store locator uses the map as both its background and focal point. The store locator also features custom icons, category filtering (24hr, wifi, drive through, etc), and custom controls.

Mare Verlag - Interactive World Map
Maps become very powerful when they are used to add geo context to information. German magazine, Mare, is using the Google Maps API to geotagged their stories and display them on a map. You can use the map to focus in on a particular part of the world and the application will populate the map with the stories that occurred in that region.

Munich S-Bahn Live Tracking on Google Maps

What’s great about this map is that it shows Munich S-Bahn transit system in real time as the trains travel through the city. There are clickable custom icons for each train, representing their line and when clicked on display stop information in an infowindow. The Google Maps API is a great solution for real-time asset tracking for both transit and business applications. To find out more about using asset tracking for business applications, visit the Google Geo Enterprise website.

Reposted from The Official Google Code Blog

With the recent addition of OAuth 2.0 support for the Latitude API, it is now easier than ever to start writing applications that utilize users’ location history or current location if they have opted in to sharing this information.

This post includes some examples of how you can use the powerful Latitude API to make compelling location-based applications.

Location History

There are many interesting ways you can use location history to create an interesting app. For example, Latify shows my location history on my Android phone so I can easily keep track of where I’ve been. You can use location history to answer questions like "Where was I on September 17th?" or you can analyze location history to show interesting stats. You can also export location history to Google Fusion Tables.

The possibilities expand when you use location history in conjunction with other data sets. For example, you can show location history lined up with transaction history, RSS feeds, or photo albums so users can see exactly where they were for a particular purchase, news event, or photo.

Current Location

The Latitude API allows you to access a user’s current location from a mobile device or a web server. For example, Moveable Weather allows users to call a phone number that tells them the weather based on their current Latitude location.

If you’re writing a mobile group messaging app, you can use the Latitude API to let users opt in to location sharing, allowing everyone in the group to see everyone else’s current location, without needing any location logic in your app.

These are just a few examples of the features of the Latitude API, which also includes storing location history, accessing city level location, and deleting location history. Check out the documentation to get started, or try browsing featured applications to get an idea of what you can build.


The Static Maps API is a great service for when you need to quickly generate a static, lightweight map. Following the updates to the Maps API/Earth API Terms of Service earlier this year, mobile application developers are now free to use the Static Maps API in native mobile apps, providing the map links to the Google Maps app or website for the same location. However the high pixel density of some mobile screens can make the labels and icons on such a static map unreadably small.

For this reason, we're introducing a new feature of the Static Maps API that smoothly doubles the size of the whole image including labels, icons, and overlays, to suit high resolution screens. To apply this upscaling to an existing Static Maps API image, simply append &scale=2 to the URL.

The image returned will contain the same level of detail, but be twice as wide and tall without the stepping or blurring that results from upscaling an existing image:


Note that when using the scale parameter the pixel size of the returned image is the product of the size and scale values given in the URL. The size parameter therefore now specifies the size of the required image in Density-independent pixels or Points, as they are known in the Android SDK and iOS SDK respectively.

Web based apps can also benefit from higher resolution Static Maps by adding a scale=2 image to the page with a CSS width and height that matches the size parameter. By default, the browser on many mobile devices upscales images in web pages by a device specific factor based on the pixel density of the screen. However these devices will preserve additional detail in the image if the image pixel : CSS pixel ratio matches or exceeds the scaling factor, which can be found by querying window.devicePixelRatio in JavaScript.

For example, below are the above two maps side-by-side with the same CSS size. On a desktop screen with a window.devicePixelRatio of 1.0 these will look almost indistinguishable. However open this blog post on a device with a high resolution screen, such as a Samsung Nexus S or Apple iPhone 4, and the image on the right will look significantly sharper.

scale=1 scale=2

As an added benefit, Maps API Premier developers can also request maps with a scale factor of 4. Although this exceeds the maximum window.devicePixelRatio of current mobile devices it does facilitate generating maps for printing at high quality:


Note however that the largest image pixel size that the Static Maps API can generate for Premier customers, regardless of the value of the scale parameter, is 2048x2048. Consequently at scale=4 the largest available value for the size parameter is 512x512. Note also that any use of the Static Maps API for generating maps to print must comply with the Permission Guidelines for Google Maps and Earth, which apply equally to Maps API Premier customers.

For more information on the scale parameter, and the other great Static Maps features, check out the Static Maps API documentation. We hope this feature helps your apps enjoy the full benefit of the high resolution screens that are increasingly popular, and makes them just that little bit easier on the eye!

When you're developing for the web, every last second counts. The ever-present "back" button can sometimes be a developer's worst nightmare: a fraction of a second can be the difference between the user engaging with your content, and abandoning your site before it finishes loading.

Speed is something that Google takes very seriously; in fact, “Fast is better than slow” is ingrained in our company philosophy of Ten things we know to be true. It’s not just loading the page that needs to be fast; the interactive content of the page needs to be fast too. Only when the content is fast and fluid can your users fully immerse themselves.

In our session Speedy Maps, we dove into some of the techniques you can use when developing your site to make it really fly. We also talk about some of the lessons we’ve learned while developing the Maps API, and how we’ve used our learnings to improve the maps experience on both mobile and desktop browsers.

The API team is embracing new browser technologies whenever we can to help improve page rendering speed. For example, if you have large graphic-intensive displays on your website, you might consider using the <canvas> tag to paint the display, rather than many individual <img> tags. A demo is always worth a thousand words – click the two buttons below to see how much more quickly the canvas element renders the content:

Watch the video of the talk, and explore all the demos in our slides to discover some of the techniques you can use on your site to make it fast. You should also check out – the home of all Google’s speedy resources.

Good luck, and may all your pages be fast ones!


When visiting an unfamiliar city for the first time, I often pick up a tourist map when I check-in to the hotel. Tourist maps are distinctive because they apply equal emphasis to the landmarks of the city as they do to the street names and intersections. Landmarks can be extremely valuable for navigational purposes, and for this reason we add icons for prominent businesses and points of interest on Google Maps as you zoom in. These business icons can be clicked to view additional information about the business, such as the rating, address, and phone number.

At Google I/O this year we began integrating access to business information into the Maps API v3 with the launch of the places library, which adds Places Search and Autocomplete. As part of our ongoing effort to extend this integration, deliver a detailed and complete map, and offer a consistent user experience between Google Maps and the Maps API, we will shortly be adding these clickable business icons to the Maps API v3 as well.

If your application does not specify a specific version of the Maps API to load these icons will appear on the map by default from early next week, unless you are a Maps API Premier customer. The business icons will be classified with the Styled Maps feature type. If you would prefer that your Maps API application not include these icons, you can remove them ahead of next week’s release by setting visibility:off on the labels element of for your map. Maps API Premier customers who would like their maps to include these icons can enable them today by setting visibility:on.

You can preview these icons, and the InfoWindow that is shown when they are clicked, on the map below:

In order to allow you to control visibility of these icons, and other features, across all the default map types, you can also now specify styles for your map in MapOptions. This enables you to selectively restyle roads, labels, and other features on Hybrid and Terrain maps in addition to Road Maps. Note however that the base satellite imagery (for Satellite and Hybrid maps) and base relief imagery (for Terrain maps) cannot be restyled.

For more information on setting map styles across map types, please see our updated Map Styling documentation. The Styled Maps Wizard has also been updated to apply styles across all maptypes. As always, if you need assistance applying styles to your Maps, or have any other Maps API questions, we recommend you post your questions to the Maps API v3 Forum.


This session at Google I/O demonstrated how developers can take advantage of new and little known GIS capabilities in all of our geo services.

We started out showing some of the GIS capabilities in Google Maps API, which amongst other features, lets you calculate distances and angles and overlay map tiles in arbitrary projections.

Moving onto some new and upcoming products, we showed off some of the capabilities of Google Earth Builder, a new platform to manage and publish large amounts of raster and vector GIS data.

In the world of data visualization, previous sessions had showed off new styling features for Fusion Tables. In this session, we showed how you can enable spatial queries on your data, displaying maps and statistics for the closest set of features to a location, or all features within an arbitrary radius.

Google Earth Builder is not the only new product that provides access to our infrastructure for working with large GIS datasets - we also talked about Google Earth Engine. This project is designed to help scientists easily access massive archives of satellite imagery, and run image analysis and other algorithms on the data within Google’s datacenters. Complex analyses that might take months or years to run on a single machine can now be completed in hours or minutes.

Finally, we showed off some ways you can integrate open source technology, and finished off the session with Brian Flood from Arc2Earth, who demonstrated a great example of the kind of GIS services that developers can build using Google’s Geo API’s.

Check out the video to see for yourself, and thanks for reading our Geo API’s Summer Learning Series.