Author PhotoHey everyone! Last November I moved to Z├╝rich. The chocolate has been so entrancing that I’m falling behind on my Fab Friday posts! The last few weeks have seen a number of Google Android Maps API videos going out, so I thought I’d do a roundup for you.

First up, Paul Saxman worked on a video with the Android team. Let’s take a look at that one first: UXD - What is Context and Why Does it Matter? Nazmul Idris and Paul Saxman distill user research data to show you how people use their devices, what expectations they have from them, and how this changes with their context.

Paul also brings us Getting Started with Markers on Android, where he covers the basics of adding markers to your map using the Google Maps Android API v2.

Next up, we have one from a newcomer to GDLs, Sarah Maddox. Sarah brings you Map Padding in the Google Maps Android API v2. With map padding, you can allow a sidebar or other UI features to hide part of a map, without hiding the Google logo and map UI controls.

Lastly, two of our fantastic interns, Emma Yeap and Iris Uy, worked on additions to the Google Maps Android API Utility Library, and included this video explaining the new and much asked for Heatmap library. Great work!

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend and happy mapping!

Posted by Mano Marks, Google Maps API Team

A new version of the Google Maps Android API Utility Library is now available, which includes some cool new data visualisation features - marker clustering and heatmaps.

Marker Clustering

When you have a lot of data to show, it can be hard to keep your app from becoming cluttered and messy. One solution is to group nearby markers into a single marker (cluster marker). When viewed zoomed in, individual markers are shown. However, as the user zooms out, markers group together into a single cluster marker.

You can also easily customize the appearance of individual and clustered markers.

custom rendering for clusters clustered markers with default look

Left: clustered markers with default look
Right: custom rendering for clusters using the IconGenerator utility

Marker clustering is ideal for visualising a large number of elements on a map whilst minimising clutter. You see a concise summary of your data when zoomed out, and as the markers separate when you zoom in, you don't lose any detail from your data.


Heatmaps are another new visualisation available in the utility library. Heatmaps represent geospatial data on a map by using different colours to represent areas with different concentrations of points - showing overall shape and concentration trends. Heatmaps are also known as "intensity maps".

For an overview of the heatmaps library, watch the video below:

You can use a heatmap to visualise any data set that has a geospatial component. For example, the below heatmap shows the population of cities around the world, with cities as points on the heatmap, weighted by population:

Heatmap of the population of the world

To get started with the Android Maps API Utility Library, view the setup guide - you can also view our guides on how to use the marker clustering and the heatmap features. For a summary of previously existing features in the utility library, view Chris Broadfoot's Maps Shortcuts video. As always, if you have any problems using the Android Maps API or the Utility Library, post to StackOverflow - our support page has the right tags to use.

A new release of the Google Maps SDK for iOS is now available! Read on to find out about the new features included in v1.7.

Gradient Polylines

In this release we’ve included gradient polylines which allow you to apply different colors to different segments of your polylines. This allows you to easily indicate changes along your polyline such as speed or elevation.

There are two options:

The example below visualizes the elevation along a route using a gradient polyline.

Structured Reverse Geocoding

In the past, our reverse geocoder, GMSGeocoder, has responded to a latitude/longitude request with the address as a formatted string. In v1.7, GMSGeocoder can return the address as a GMSAddress object, enabling you to easily access the different parts of an address without needing to parse a string. For example if you’re only interested in the country, this is available as Check out the developer guide for further information about the properties available to you.

URL Schemes & x-callback-url

The comgooglemaps URL scheme lets you launch Google Maps for iOS, displaying the map at a particular location and zoom level, showing the results of a search, or showing directions. In addition to driving, public transit and walking directions, we’ve now added biking directions to the URL scheme.

There may be times, though, when you want to open Google Maps for iOS directly from within your app, but also want to provide the ability for users to easily return to your app via a back button when they are finished. X-callback-url, an open specification for inter-app communication and messaging between iOS apps, lets you do just that. We’ve documented how to use x-callback-url to launch Google Maps for iOS, and also how to help guide users back to your app when they are ready.

High fidelity 3D buildings

Finally, some of you may know that Google Maps for iOS now has some higher fidelity 3D buildings. If you’d like your app to have access to these 3D buildings, you’ll need to upgrade to v1.7 of the Google Maps SDK for iOS. Check out our favorite, the Eiffel Tower!

We’ve also included a few bug fixes which you can read about in the release notes.

We’re always interested to hear how you’re using the Maps APIs, so let us know if you’ve got something cool to show by tagging +Google Maps API on your posts (or comment right here). For technical questions that aren’t answered in the developer documentation, check out the Google Maps developer community on Stack Overflow. Don’t forget to tell us what you’d like to see in the next release using the Google Maps API issue tracker.

Posted by Megan Boundey, Product Manager, Google Maps Mobile APIs