Google Releases New Maps API for Easier Map Embedding in Websites

The new Google Maps Embed API will make it even easier for Webmasters to place Google Maps into Web pages for use by site visitors, according to Google.

Google has unveiled a new Google Maps Embed API that aims to make it easier for Website designers to place detailed Google Maps into Web pages so that customers can locate their physical locations more easily.

The new Google Maps Embed API was unveiled by Ben Greenwood and Ken Hoetmer, product managers for Google Maps APIs, in a March 11 post on the Google Geo Developers Blog. The new API improves on a previous move by Google in December 2013, when the search giant began allowing Website owners and bloggers to embed and use Google Maps images for free.

"Since we introduced the ability to embed the new Google Maps, a growing number of sites across the web have been helping their visitors visualize and remember places, using maps built for them," wrote Greenwood and Hoetmer. "However, we know that many sites require multiple maps, and repeatedly generating them can be a challenge."

That's where the new Google Maps Embed API comes in, "giving developers the ability to generate HTML snippets that embed Google Maps within their own website," they wrote. "Using the API to take control of your embedded maps, you can now effortlessly customize the location and appearance of the map with a handful of simple URL parameters."

Some uses of the new API include the Guggenheim art museum in New York City, which is using the new API to allow visitors to save the museum's location to Google Maps directly from the Website, wrote Greenwood and Hoetmer. "Visitors can then quickly plan their day and navigate to the museum by pulling up their saved places on any device with Google Maps."

In San Francisco, the city's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is using the new API to show the museum's temporary exhibit locations, the post continues. "Visitors can get easily get directions to these locations and save them to Google Maps for later viewing on any of their devices."

Google will be updating its existing classic Google Maps embedding processes to the new format in the coming weeks, wrote Greenwood and Hoetmer, to provide a consistent mechanism for all map embedding. "This also means that starting today, the Maps/Earth APIs Terms of Service will apply to all updated embedded Google Maps," they wrote.

Use of the new Google Maps Embed API is free. The new API includes the same on-map advertising capabilities that were unveiled last December when the use of the Maps was extended for free.

Earlier in December 2013, Google Maps announced that it was gaining some spectacular map imagery from the National Geographic Society, which is contributing some 500 of its maps to Google Map's new public data program. Under the Google Maps Engine public data program, organizations can now distribute their map content to consumers using Google's cloud infrastructure, according to Google. And that's where National Geographic's contribution came in, bringing digital images of many of the long-popular printed maps that are often tucked inside the latest issues of the magazine. To do that, National Geographic uses the Google Maps Engine to overlay the maps with interactive editorial content so the maps can tell stories and raise awareness about environmental issues and historic events.

The Google Maps Engine public data program provides advanced tools that allow map producers to publish their public mapping content to the world. Organizations that produce maps, such as public data providers and governments that have content in the public good, can apply to participate in the program, according to Google.

In October 2013, Google released Google Maps Engine Pro to make it easier for businesses to use online maps to attract customers and new revenue. The new professional mapping tool lets businesses visualize their huge amounts of critical data on maps so they can take advantage of the new resources the data provides, according to Google. Google Maps Engine Pro was built as an application on top of the Google Maps Engine platform, which provides businesses with cloud-based technology to help them organize large data sets and create more complex maps.

In July 2013, Google Maps unveiled a new maps layer for developers so that they can better integrate their data with images in Google Maps. The innovative DynamicMapsEngineLayer gives developers the abilities to perform client-side rendering of vector data, allowing them to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click, according to the company. The new maps layer makes it easier for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Google Maps Engine.

In June 2013, Google for the first time released its Google Maps Engine API to developers so they can build consumer and business applications that incorporate the features and flexibility of Google Maps. With the Maps API, developers can now use Google's cloud infrastructure to add their data on top of a Google Map and share that custom mash-up with consumers, employees or other users. The API provides direct access to Maps Engine for reading and editing spatial data hosted in the cloud, according to Google.