Google's new Maps software development kit (SDK) for iOS includes several features that give developers more flexibility and creativity in adding new capabilities to their Maps apps.
"With this update, developers can write a few lines of code to access popular features of Google Maps, including Street View in 50 countries, more than 1 billion square feet of indoor floor plans and an updated design of our map tiles," wrote Daniel Schramm, associate product manager for Google Maps, in a July 16 post on the Google Geo Developers Blog.
Version 1.4 of the SDK comes seven months after the first iOS SDK was unveiled by Google last December. Developers can download the latest SDK immediately to begin using it for their apps.
Previously, adding Street View images to iOS Maps apps meant adding extra code, but the new SDK streamlines that by building the capabilities into the development environment. Developers can add markers to their maps, which can be clicked on by users to direct them to or from the locations on the maps.
The added capabilities in the new SDK build on the new look and feel of Maps that was unveiled at the May Google I/O Developers Conference, where a new Maps Web interface was launched.
Also built into the latest SDK are capabilities for developers to show users indoor floor plans inside buildings such as shopping malls, airports, train stations and other facilities where floor plans have been mapped out and made available on Street View. "In a store finder, imagine showing users the inside of the building where your store is located, rather than just street level," wrote Schramm. "You can even choose [the] floor you want to view and switch floors" if the floor layouts are already available in Street View.
The new SDK also includes an update to the map tiles, which follows the appearance of the new Maps user interface, including changes such as the removal of yellow roads, wrote Schramm. That "gives the map a more neutral palette, so that your app's colors, styles and map markers can stand out."
More changes, improvements and fixes are listed in the documentation for the new SDK, including an improved look and feel for polylines and polygon stroke and improved tappability of
In February, Google released the first update for the then-nascent iOS Maps SDK. The update included support for ground overlays, gesture control and geodesic polylines, as well as a new sample app to help developers learn how to use Google maps when they create new apps. Other new capabilities at that time included the ability to allow users to view and interact with a Google map within an iOS app.
It was an interesting road for Google to bring the Google Maps app back to iOS in December 2012.
Apple had announced in May 2012 that it would drop the native Google Maps app that had been part of iOS since the arrival of the first iPhones so that the company could introduce its own maps app.
The arrival of the Apple Maps app in iOS 6, however, was a disaster for the company in September 2012 when it was met with many complaints and criticisms from users who bashed its lack of accuracy and geographic details. The PR problem was so bad at the time that Apple's CEO Tim Cook even offered a public apology for the problems, vowing that they would eventually be resolved.
Google, of course, didn't sit on the sidelines. It rushed its own stand-alone Google Maps app for iOS into production, releasing it through the Apple Store last December. The Google Maps app for iOS proved to be very popular, hitting the 10 million download mark in the first 48 hours that it became available.
Some iOS 5 users never even upgraded to iOS 6 when it was released because they knew that they'd lose access to the native built-in Google Maps app that was missing until the release of the latest Google Maps app.
Google just introduced a new version of its Maps app for iOS on July 16, which is available in the Apple App Store.