The Google Maps API is truly an international product

 

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.




 


Bikemap.net, 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.

 

The Changes in Bing Maps

 

Microsoft have made some changes to the look and feel of the http://www.bing.com.maps site. So, it’s out with the old:

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And in with the new:

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The compass and zoom buttons are now overlaid as buttons on the map image rather than being in the toolbar header, and have been placed on the right hand side and made more prominent.

The breadcrumb trail has also been moved onto the map display itself, with a prominent target icon (displaying “World” in the screenshot above).

The streetside guy is still in the header although still doesn’t do anything yet (not if you’re in Europe, anyway).

However, the most interesting change for me is that the map styles themselves have been split into two separate dropdown categories – “road style” maps (Road, Ordnance Survey, Collins Bartholomew) and “aerial style” maps (Birds’ eye, Aerial). What’s more, the “show angled view” checkbox is gone, and the aerial map styles have reverted to their old names of aerial (for the top down imagery) and bird’s eye (for the oblique imagery).

This I think is a major improvement, and one which I hope feeds through into the Bing Maps AJAX v7 control soon. The problems with the old naming used on bing.com/maps (and still used the API) are many:

Firstly, there is terminology – when users say “birdseye” what they mean is the oblique, low level photographic imagery. They don’t say “birdseye angled” and “birdseye not angled” to refer to top down aerial imagery. This makes it hard to establish exactly what mode is being referred to.

Then, there are legal issues. In Microsoft’s own terms of use, there are specific restrictions placed on the use of “bird’s eye imagery” – http://www.microsoft.com/maps/product/terms.html – but what they really mean is “birdseye angled view” (i.e. true birdseye), not what you get when you just click the “birdseye” button, which gives you aerial view unless you checked the angled view button.

There are also technical differences – you can’t display custom tile layers over birdseye angled views, whereas you can display them over birdseye non-angled views (i.e. aerial) for example.

Birdseye and Aerial are two different map styles so it’s good to see they are being treated, and named as such on bing.com (as they always used to be!). So, when are these changes coming to the AJAX API?