Google today announced at Google I/O some really exciting new features for the Google Maps API. The new features include a new Transit Layer, Symbols and new Google Places features for the Google Maps API.
You can now add symbols to a Google Map. At first this doesn't sound overly exciting but the new Symbols feature really opens some amazing new possibilities for online maps.
Symbols can be used like map markers. However symbols are vectors so they can be styled (e.g. stroke / fill / opacity). They are also dynamic so can be animated. For example you can change symbols to show changes in locations over time.
Symbols can also be added to polylines. So, for example, you can add arrowheads to a polyline. However, again because symbols are dynamic, they can be animated. So you can use symbols with polylines to show movement (e.g. animating a plane flight).
Check out this example with a polygon and an animated symbol to get an idea of what is now possible with the Google Maps API.
Google Maps API developers can now also add a transit layer to their maps.
The transit layer allows you to show a transit network on your maps.
You can also add a routing feature so that users can get Transit directions and times.
Using Google Places you can access Google Reviews. This new feature allows you to get the top 5 reviews for a venue shown on your maps.
You can now also allow users to perform keyword searches. Using this feature users can search for distinct types of place. e.g. 'Mexico Restaurants in San Francisco'.