Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Joined-Up Maps

I've been very critical lately about the lack of development of the Google Maps JavaScript API. We've had to wait a long time for any new features to be added to the API. Today, however, Google has announced a new feature and it's a good one!

Signed-in Maps allows your users to sign-in to your Google Maps API applications with a Google account. Once signed-in users will be able to see their Google Maps saved places (for example their home and work addresses) on your Google Maps application. They will also be able to save locations from your location, which will then display on the official Google Maps website.

Save a location on a Google Maps API app & it will then show up on the Google Maps website or phone app

The simplest example of this in action might be a store locator or a 'where we are' map. You could use the Google Maps API to create a simple map to show potential customers the location of your business. If you use the new Signed-in Maps feature on your map your users will be able to save the location of your business through their Google account. Then, when the user wants to find your business, they can open Google Maps on their mobile phone and see your business starred on their map.

As you can see in the screenshot above the saved location not only displays on the main Google Maps website it also shows which Google Maps API application it was saved on.

The new Signed-in Maps feature has a number of great potential uses. For example, if you now create a map of local restaurants you can allow your users to save the restaurants that they fancy visiting. They can then view all their saved restaurants on any Google Maps site.

The Signed-in Maps feature has two main methods for signed-in users to save locations. You can allow users of your map to save a location by adding a simple 'save' option to an information window.  Alternatively you can add a Save Widget, which allows you to place the save option outside of an information window.

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