Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Putting Google Places on the Map

The Google Places library is a great resource to populate a map with local businesses, restaurants, cafes and points of interest. The Places Library allows you to display nearby categorized venues, venue details (including address, opening hours & customer reviews) and display photos of the venue.

There are lots of ways you can use the Places library on a Google Map. Here are a few maps which use the Places library to provide a little local knowledge.


You can combine the Google Places library with the Google Maps API Directions Service to create a directions finder which can show you stops along your route. Roadli is a nice example of a map which does exactly that.

Say you plan to drive from San Francisco to Palo Alto and fancy a pizza along the way. You just need to enter your starting and ending locations and 'pizza restaurant' and Roadli will display a suggested driving route with pizza restaurants along your journey.

The restaurants (or whatever kind of business you wish to stop at) are also listed under the map and each restaurant includes the time that you will have to add to your journey to detour to this location.


Roadtrippers is a more polished version of this kind of trip-planning map. The application allows users to get driving directions between two locations in the U.S. and find points of interest along the route.

Using Roadtrippers it is possible to search for places of interest and good places to eat, drink and shop along a planned drive. You can search for points of interest in a large range of categories, including 'attractions', 'accommodation', 'shopping', 'food and drink' etc.

If you like the look of one of the recommended points of interest you can easily add it to your trip and the application automatically adds the stop to the finished driving directions.


The Google Places library can also be used in real-estate maps to help house hunters discover what kind of facilities are available near a property. Trulia Local is a great example of Google Places being used in a real-estate map.

Trulia Local allows users to search for properties alongside local information, such as schools, restaurants, banks and stores. Select the 'amenities' option from the menu and you can find restaurants, banks, groceries and gas stations which are near your searched for property.


Have you ever left a bar at two in the morning in desperate need of a burger or pizza? What's Open is a handy little Google Map which allows you to search for nearby food and pizza establishments which are open right now.

What's Open uses the Google Places API to only show you establishments around you which are open at the time of your search. Share your location with the application and all the pizza and food establishments still open in your area are displayed on a Google Map. You can even click on each establishment's marker to find out how many hours are left until it closes.


One interesting idea is to combine indoor Street Views with the Google Places Library in order to create a bar and restaurant review website. Here's a little demo of this idea which I knocked-up in a few hours.

The Indoor Bars & Restaurants map uses the indoor Street Views of a number of London bar and restaurants and then overlays the name, address and rating of the establishment from the Google Places Library.


You can also use the Google Places library with other data to help users find great places to eat, drink and visit. This is what Taxi Stockholm has achieved with a year's worth of taxi trip data and the Places library.

Taxi Trails has taken the data from all of Stockholm's GPS enabled cabs and used the Google Maps API to create a heat-map of taxi destinations in the Swedish capital. Taxi Stockholm believe that this heat-map is not only a beautiful data visualization but it can also be useful for tourists visiting the city.

If you are visiting Stockholm for the first time you can use the map to find popular hot-spots in the city. For example, if you are looking for somewhere to go on a Saturday night, you can refine the map to show the most popular destinations for Stockholm cabs in the evening at the weekend. You can then zoom in on a hot-spot on the map and select the 'Explore this area' option. This will then drop markers on the map showing you bars and restaurants in the area from the Places library.
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