Author PhotoIt’s been a few weeks since the last Fab Friday. A lot has happened since then. Well, actually, Google I/O happened. Plus we launched a visual refresh of the Google Maps JavaScript API v3. And we announced that over a million sites are now using the Google Maps API. And we had updates to both the Google Maps Android API v2 and the Google Maps SDK for iOS. Wow, a lot really has happened.

Right now, over on Google+ we’re doing a series of video highlights from Google I/O. Every day we’re posting a new video. Currently we’re running the Google I/O 2013 Google Maps Mobile playlist.

We've also recorded a couple more Google Maps Developers Live videos since I/O. Last week, Josh Livni presented a Google Maps Shortcut on The Maps API Visual Refresh.

And this week, Brendan Kenny did a Maps Garage episode on Exploring Map Data with Crossfilter, where he demonstrates how to use a Google Map as a type of Crossfilter view, so that selections within histograms or graphs influence what is drawn on the map, while interactions with the map drive what is drawn in the other views.

That’s it for this week, have a great weekend and happy mapping!

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

M(app) of the Week: Airbnb for Android

Why we like it: In addition to getting a visual and functional refresh and Google Wallet integration, the Airbnb app for Android now includes some advanced map marker features, such as custom marker images and marker clustering.  The Airbnb team added these features to their app using the Google Maps Android API v2.

When searching for a place to stay, each location is displayed on a map with a marker indicating its price per night.  Using custom marker images to show additional information on the map helps users make decisions based on multiple, important variables (e.g. price and location) more rapidly.  With the Maps API, you can create custom markers from bitmaps that you dynamically draw or load over the wire, or from static assets that you package with your application.

The Airbnb app also uses the Projection class to determine which markers would visually overlap, and replaces them with a single cluster marker that shows how many places it represents.  Marker clustering allows developers to control the visual complexity of the map and improve app performance by reducing the number of makers that are displayed simultaneously. As the user interacts with the map, the marker clustering dynamically changes, which is a great experience for exploring the information displayed on the map.

Marker clustering is also a excellent technique for capturing a third important piece of information about places, which is density.  In the above map of San Francisco, you can see that there are a number of Airbnb places listed in the Mission and Noe Valley neighborhoods, which might indicate that these are interesting places to visit and explore (they are!).

If you want to read more about the technical and visual enhancements that the Airbnb team made to their Android app, be sure to visit their Nerd Blog!

Posted by Paul Saxman, Maps Developer Relations Team

It was an exciting year for Maps at Google I/O. Starting with the launch of the new Maps in the keynote, we had a lot going on! Here are some highlights:

  1. We announced that Google Maps is now on one million websites, seen by over one billion people every day.
  2. The Google Maps JavaScript API v3 got a visual refresh.
  3. There were and updates to the Google Maps Android API v2 and the Google Maps SDK for iOS.
  4. We had a wild sandbox with a map diving experience, a Mercedes, Google Earth controlled by a Leap Motion controller and viewed with an Oculus Rift and more!

And much more. We’ve put together a playlist so you can check out all the sessions:

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team


Map of the Week:

Why we like it: Planefinder uses all three Google Maps API platforms, web, Android, and iOS to enable beautiful visualizations of flight routes.

And recently they used the visual refresh to update their map to the latest look and feel.

They use our WeatherLayer to show clouds and weather forecasts, and offer a Styled Map background to make the planes stand out.

The mobile apps use the Google Maps Android API v2 and the Google Maps SDK for iOS.

They use Markers to update the location of the planes, and Polylines to show their routes.

This is a great use of all three platforms for the Google Maps API to show a compelling visualization of planes in flight.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team


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!


[Reposted from the Google Developers Blog]

By Mike Winton, Director of Developer Relations

At Google I/O 2013, we will share the future of our platforms with you. Developers from all over the world are the key innovators of powerful, breakthrough technologies, and that’s why we challenged ourselves to make the Google I/O experience available to every developer, everywhere.

Watch Google I/O live
From the comfort of your own home, office, secret lair, or anywhere you have a reliable Internet connection, you can stream Google I/O May 15-16 live. Brought to you by Google Developers Live (GDL), the Google I/O homepage will become the GDL at I/O live streaming hub starting on May 15th at 9 AM PT (16:00 UTC). From this page, you can:

  • Stream 4 channels of technical content on your computer, tablet, or phone. You’ll feel like you’re right there in the keynote and session rooms, listening to product announcements straight from the source. Live streaming will run on from 9:00 AM PT (16:00 UTC) to 7 PM PT (2:00 UTC) on May 15 and 16.
  • Watch exclusive interviews with the Googlers behind the latest product announcements. This year, GDL will be on site, broadcasting one-on-one product deep dives, executive interviews, and Sandbox walkthroughs from the GDL stage.
  • Get the latest news in real-time. We’ll be posting official announcements during I/O. You’ll be able to see the feed on the Google I/O homepage, in the I/O mobile app (coming soon), and on +Google Developers.
  • Never miss a session. All Google I/O technical sessions will be recorded and posted to GDL and the Google Developers YouTube channel. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for archived session updates.

Live blog the keynote
Grab our live blogging gadget to add the keynote live stream to your own site or blog. Customize the gadget with your site or blog name, live blog alongside real-time Google announcements, and share a dynamic Google I/O experience with your readers. Have questions? For more info, check out our live blogging gadget FAQ.

Get together locally
Experience Google I/O with your local developer community by hosting or attending an I/O Extended event. If you’re hosting, register here and learn how to hold a totally epic event with our handy Organizer Guide. Otherwise, with over 400 sites in 90+ countries, chances are good that there is an I/O Extended event near you. Find an event now!

And before I/O, tune in to Google Developers Live programming to connect with Google engineers, prep for this year’s event, and browse our archived content. For official conference updates, add +Google Developers to your Circles, follow #io13 for big announcements, join the Google I/O community, and keep an eye on the Google I/O site.

Mike Winton founded and leads Google's global Developer Relations organization. He also enjoys spending time with his family and DJing electronic music.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

Map of the Week: Flattest Route

Why we like it: It’s Bike To Work Month, and this new site provides a nice, clean interface that highlights elevation changes along your commute.

After you select your start and end points, Flattest Route makes use of the Elevation Service to get back detailed elevations along a draggable path (which in this case is the result of a Bicycling directions request).

The path is color coded according to slope, and the map itself has the default UI controls disabled, adding to the clean design (you can still zoom using your scrollwheel).

A really useful feature is a set of simple but effective set of charts that highlight the hills.

The slope chart, created using the Google Visualization API is especially useful here. After viewing your bike commute, be sure to drag around the route and see how the elevations change.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since our first Geo Developer Day, which has since grown into a little event we now know as Google I/O. This year, we plan on bringing the best of Google Maps to every screen, including demos from the dashboard of a Mercedes-Benz to all seven screens of our latest Liquid Galaxy installation. Read on for a behind-the-map preview of the sessions, sandbox partners and events you won’t want to miss at Google I/O 2013.

Join us for Google Maps: Into the Future, where our Product Managers and Developer Advocates will take at look at the present and future of Google Maps on our three platforms, the JavaScript Maps API, Android API, and the iOS SDK. Don’t forget to check out the Maps session schedule for more live I/O Live sessions and mark your favorites. And remember, all sessions will be available on YouTube after Google I/O.

Developer Sandbox
The Developer Sandbox at Google I/O gives you a chance to check out demos from developers who have built applications based on Google technologies and products--here are our favorites from Google Maps.

The developers behind Mercedes-Benz’s Digital DriveStyle will be on hand to walk you through their latest integration of the Places API, using the Google Maps SDK for iOS. Did we mention that the demo takes place from behind the wheel of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550?

You can also take a look behind the lens of the Street View Trekker and SVII cameras, which have made their way from the peaks of Everest and the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, to join us at Google I/O--you can even take the Trekker backpack on a hike through the Grand Canyon. Navigate different areas using the Wii Street U™ powered by Google available on Nintendo’s Wii U™ console.

Our other two partners will let you get hands-on, quite literally, with our Geo APIs. Try flying through Google Earth with a Leap Motion controller. And get an early demo of Map Diving on Google Developers Live this Thursday, where Instrument’s developers will walk you through how they built it using multiple instances of Chrome mashed up with the Google Maps Javascript API v3, Web GL, 3D CSS, web sockets and node.js.

Office Hours
As always, the Google Maps engineering and developer relations teams will be on hand to meet with you for office hours at our Developer Sandbox on the second floor of Moscone West.  Stop by on any one of the three days and chat with one of the members of the team on a variety of topics, including new APIs and features, questions about our APIs in your apps, or simply to learn more about how our technology works.

On Thursday, May 16, our friends at GeoMeetup and O'Reilly are hosting an event in San Francisco. While the GeoMeetup is fully booked, we're stil taking applications for speakers at the Ignite sesssions.

I/O Live
For those of you joining us online, we’ll be bringing you highlights from the event on I/O Live. Look for the camera icon on the session schedule and follow us at +Google Maps API, where we’ll let you know when to tune in for a tour of the Maps Sandbox. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to seeing you on Google Developers Live this Thursday for a demo of Map Diving!


Author PhotoIt’s Friday again. Of course for those of us on Maps Developer Relations, our weekends are filling up with thoughts of Google I/O. OK code demos and slide prep for I/O. More on that soon :-)

I’ve got another video for you. This week I did another Shortcuts episode, Directions and the Google Maps iOS SDK. The title sorta says it all doesn’t it? Showing you how to do an async call to the Google Directions API.

I posted the code on my personal github account.

We’ll have another Maps Developers Live event next week, details TBD, so watch +GoogleMapsAPI for more details.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at I/O, and hope the rest of you can catch us on I/O Extended.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team