For nearly eight years, developers around the world have used the Google Maps APIs to build beautiful, powerful, and impactful apps. From the early mashups to today’s on-location mobile apps, these developers have continuously re-imagined the map. In fact, you’ve created more than one million active sites and apps, which now reach one billion unique visitors every week. One billion! That’s nearly half the Internet.

As we celebrate your maps, we’re also introducing the largest visible change in our eight year history: a fresh new look and feel for the JavaScript and Static Maps APIs, in line with the launch of the new Google Maps. The new look is available for opt-in today, and is a simple one line code change: google.maps.visualRefresh=true;.

We’ve carefully designed the change to work seamlessly with all existing sites, and as such all third party customizations such as custom markers, overlays, map types, and the like will continue to function as they did before. Four major changes are involved in the refresh:

  • new base map tiles
  • new default marker
  • new info window style
  • style refresh of the controls

Static Maps API base maps and markers have also been refreshed, and can be enabled by adding &visual_refresh=true as a URL parameter.

This new look will become default in our experimental branch (used by most standard Maps API developers) with the next scheduled release on August 15, 2013, and default in the release branch (used by most Maps for Business customers) three months later in November. The Static Maps API will follow the same schedule in both cases.

A complete list of specific changes is available in the documentation, where they’re discussed with examples and in more detail. In the meantime, here’s to the one million that reimagined the map. Enjoy!

Posted by Ken Hoetmer, Product Manager, Google Maps API

P.S. We migrated our Webby-Award-winning showcase site to the new look. Check it out!