More maps!

As part of Google's mission to provide the most complete and authoritative maps to everyone, we’re excited to announce upgraded maps for Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, Macau, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, and the Vatican City.

Today’s update follows previous updates in North America, Europe, and Australasia, and is part of an ongoing project we call Ground Truth: in which we source data from regional partners, supplement the data with satellite and Street View imagery, and apply a mix of algorithms and human judgement to produce a consistent and reliable geographic dataset which we can update quickly and corresponds as closely as possible to, well, the truth on the ground. In this case you’ll find our maps now include more precise area boundaries, greater coverage of road networks, and more comprehensive local points of interest. To capture and quickly fix errors reported by our users, we’ve also enabled the Report a Problem tool for these countries.

What does this mean for you, our 800,000 developers? For most of you, these updates will simply roll out over the next 24 hours and your Maps API applications will automatically display the latest imagery; however, for those developers who have cached results from any of our Maps API Web Services, please refresh your cache as soon as possible to ensure your results include the latest information.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please post them to our Google Maps API forums and we’ll be happy to respond.

Map of the Week: Bostonography Neighborhoods
Why we like it: This is a unique solution to an old problem. We really like the use of drawing tools to collect information and Styled Maps to help the data stand out better.

In almost every city, there is some disagreement as to where one neighborhood ends and another begins. Furthermore, as is often the case, reputable sources have differing neighborhood lines. In reality there are no physical lines on the ground clearly defining neighborhoods, however these hypothetical boundaries do have a real impact on local economies, politics, and identity. Bostonography has set out to solve this problem by creating a tool to collect as many neighborhood definitions as possible.

From the Bostonography website, “We want to map the collective definitions of Boston's neighborhoods by its residents and those who know the city well. This map is a tool for drawing top-level neighborhood boundaries … as you see them, and submitting them to a database that will be used to map the areas of agreement and disagreement among participants.”

Bostonography has begun to parse the data and has calculated which neighborhoods have the most agreement and which have the most disagreement. The results of the first few data sets are stunning. To further illustrate how complex neighborhood definitions can be, this separate example by The Boston Globe shows just how “tangled” neighborhood boundaries are, even amongst city agencies!

If you have knowledge of Boston yourself, Bostonography encourages you to contribute to the map. “Submit a map of as many or as few neighborhoods as you wish, but we of course encourage you to draw all of them. Detail as intricate as you have patience for is appreciated, too, for the sake of the eventual maps of the results.”

So whether you’re from Southie or from Allston, we all can agree that this map is wicked awesome.

We launched the Google Places API at Google I/O last year to enable developers to search more than 95 million places, such as businesses and landmarks, around the world. We have continued to enhance the API since then, adding a number of features requested by developers such as keyword search, rank by distance, and support for Events. At Google I/O this year we continued to respond to your feedback, with the launch of Google Reviews, Text Search, Opening Hours, and Paging.

Google Reviews
By far the most popular request from developers since the day we launched has been access to the Google Reviews offered on Google+ Local. We’re therefore delighted to announce that the top 5 Google Reviews for a Place are now included in the response to a Place Details request. Each review is accompanied by additional information such as the scores given by the author, author details, and the date that the review was submitted.

Text Search
Today we are introducing Text Search, a whole new way of searching that broadens the scope of the Places API to any device that can accept text input, be it from a keyboard or from voice recognition.

Text Search brings the flexible capabilities of the Google Maps search field to your application. Rather than requiring the user’s location to search around, Text Search interprets free text queries that can include both what the user is searching for, and where they are searching for it. For example, you can submit a search for “Pizza in New York”, or “Sushi near Sydney”. You can also bias queries to a particular area, so that even queries with no address component can be correctly interpreted.

Opening Hours
Another popular request from developers has been access to the opening hours for businesses. The Place API now returns the 7 day opening hours for a Place in the Place Details results where available. Place Search results also now include a property that indicates if a Place for which opening hours are available is currently open.

Today we are also introducing support for paging, which increases the number of search results that can be retrieved to 60. Applications can now request two additional sets of 20 results after the initial request has been made.

You can try these new features with the below demo. Enter a search query to see 20 matching results, with more loaded when you scroll to the end of the list. Click on a result to see the reviews for that place under the map, and the opening hours for today in the InfoWindow on the map.

To accompany these launches we’re also pleased to announce a new dedicated home page for the Places API at In addition to the Places API web service, all of the above new features are also available in the places library of the JavaScript Maps API v3.

If you want to know more about how your application can benefit from the power of the Google Places API join our developer community on Stack Overflow. We look forward to seeing the innovative new apps that these great new Places API features inspire you to develop.