Google Maps SDK For iOS And URL Scheme
Alongside the launch of its official Maps app for iPhone, Google has also released a developer SDK to let third-party apps embed Google Maps directly. As detailed by Andrew Foster at the Google Geo Developers blog, the SDK – which requires signing up for API access – will allow developers to integrate Google Maps with their own apps, displaying embedded 2D or 3D Maps views with markers and info windows. The blog post also confirms that the SDK will work on the iPad; Google has confirmed to The New York Times that a native iPad version of Maps is indeed coming.
The SDK features vector-based maps that load quickly, allowing users to easily navigate 2D and 3D views, rotating and tilting the map with simple gestures inside your app. Developers can also change the Google maps view to include information such as traffic conditions, and control camera positions in 3D.
In the SDK documentation, Google says that the appearance of Maps embedded through the SDK is the same of the Google Maps apps, and that the SDK “exposes many of the same features”.
However, the SDK isn’t the only way for developers to integrate with Google Maps. Using a URL scheme, developers can point to the Google Maps app and launch it from their app into a specific view or map object. Documentation for the URL scheme is available here. Developers can link to Google Maps with specific views, modes (standard or Street View), set zoom levels, and pass directions with the URL scheme.
It’ll be interesting to see how and when Google Maps-compatible apps such as AroundMe or WhereTo will support the new Google Maps SDK. The addition of a URL scheme shouldn’t be underestimated either, as it’ll enable regular users to launch the app using tools like Launch Center Pro.
In spite of “sources at Google” claiming that Apple wouldn’t accept a Google Maps app in the App Store, Google has today released its official Maps application for iPhone. The app just went live on the App Store, and it’s available as a free download here.
Following Apple’s debacle with their Maps software for iOS 6, Google was rumored to be preparing a third-party version of Google Maps for iOS devices. We haven’t been able to test this yet, and we’ll post our impressions of the software on MacStories once we’re able to properly use the app. Read more
Since the release of iOS 6, I’ve been looking for apps and services to get Google Maps functionality back on my iPhone and iPad. While not as integrated as the previous Maps app of iOS 5, I’ve settled on a combination of various tools to access Google Maps for those times when Apple Maps fail me (unfortunately, most of the time in my area). Read more
Traveling at the speed of light? Measure just how fast you’re going with a speedometer you can add to the Maps app via a Cydia tweak for Jailbroken iPhones. Speed for Maps is a small utility that you download to measure how fast you’re traveling in miles per hour, feet per second, kilometers per hour, meters per second, or knots if you’re traveling the high seas. A small, circular badge is added to Maps that displays your current speed — useful for biking and boating, but maybe not so much for driving where your panel instruments already give you everything you need. Regardless, it’s a simple tweak you can find in the Cydia repository if you’re interested in adding the tiny overlay.
Tipped off by a reader, MacRumors has found that the legal disclaimers in iOS 5 contain new references to a number of third party companies that provide various mapping services. The disclaimers come under a new section called “Map Data” that is not present in previous disclaimers and is completely separate to the section which deals in the disclaimer which deals with licenses used by Google for its mapping service that is used by Apple in the Maps app.
Today’s discovery comes after a number of other revelations, together they form what seems to be the suggestion that Apple is looking (or potentially actively working on) its own mapping solution that could replace Google Maps on iOS. Some of those clues include its acquisition of mapping companies Placebase and Poly9 and its recruitment of employees with navigation software expertise. The location log debacle also revealed that Apple was “collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database”.
MacRumors had a look into all the companies newly listed in the legal disclaimer and gave a quick description of each of them (included below). Noting two companies in particular that suggest Apple may be developing its own maps service. Urban Mapping provides some extensive additional data such as a wide range of demographic information that can be layed on top of traditional data. Waze, however, is experienced in developing crowd-sourced traffic data - it also has a popular app in the App Store now which demonstrates a lot of their services.
- CoreLogic offers Parcel data which marks boundaries for of properties to provide positional accuracy in location-based solutions.
- Getchee provides location and market data on China, India and Southeast Asia.
- Increment P Corp provides location and traffic data for Japan.
- Localeze provides local business listings.
- MapData Sciences Pty Ltd. Inc provides mapping data for Australia and New Zealand.
- DMTI provides postal code data for Canada.
- TomTom offers global TeleAtlas mapping data which is also licensed by Google for their map solution.
- Urban Mapping provides in-depth neighborhood data such as crime, demographics, school performance, economic indicators and more.
- Waze offers real-time maps and traffic information based on crowd sourced data.
Whilst this doesn’t provide concrete proof of whether Apple is working on its own mapping service, we are fairly sure it (if it exists) will not be launching with iOS 5. This is likely related to the fact that Google recently renewed its agreement with Apple to provide Google Maps to iOS.
Jump the break to see some screenshots of the new legal disclaimer which features these new companies.
As noted by Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, Apple’s new data center in Maiden, North Carolina, is now visible in its entirety from Google Maps’s aerial view. The tidbit of information isn’t particularly interesting as far as the building goes – it’s the same white, anonymous construction we’ve been seeing in other shots from the past months – but the timing is interesting: according to Fortune, Apple started allowing Google to display the data center in their Maps service soon after the official WWDC announcement yesterday. In that announcement, Apple confirmed the WWDC keynote would see Steve Jobs and other executives on stage to unveil iOS 5, OS X Lion and iCloud. The data center was rumored to host a bevy of Internet services and online iTunes content, but the press release and the timing of this sudden Maps appearance seems to confirm that, yes, Maiden’s massive facility will be used for iCloud and all the cloud-related features of iOS 5 and OS X Lion.
But if you asked Google Earth or Google Maps to show you the intersection of U.S. Route 321 and Startown Road – where the data center is located – the current satellite imagery stopped a few yards short of the construction site. West of Startown Road, there was, as recently as two weeks ago, nothing but woods and farmland and a bit of driveway that ended abruptly in the middle of a field.
After Apple’s announcement Tuesday that Steve Jobs was ready to reveal iCloud – the “upcoming cloud services offering” presumably based in Maiden, N.C. – we thought we’d give Google Maps another try.
Lo and behold, there it was: A huge, white, nondescript building with a road leading in, a road leading out, and almost no employee parking.
The data center in Maiden, North Carolina, is rumored to go under an expansion at 1 million square feet (from the current 500,000) and other reports claimed Apple was using highly custom equipment and a unique design to power its new Internet services and applications. As speculation is running wild on how Apple will use the data center with iCloud and iTunes, the company has reportedly already commissioned a new, smaller data center in Santa Clara, California.
Following today’s reports on iOS 5 coming with completely revamped notifications and widgets, 9to5google claims the next major version of iOS 5 won’t feature the maps service Apple was rumored to be working on, but it will keep using Google Maps as in the current versions of iOS.
Now, sources have told 9to5Google that although Apple is working to improve the iOS Maps application, iOS 5 will not bring an Apple developed maps service and Google Maps is still in. Besides Apple’s purchase of both Placebase and Poly9, some speculated that Apple is building their own maps service to either compete with Google or step away from their input into iOS.
The speculation on a map service developed by Apple to replace Google Maps integration on iOS devices indeed started after the company purchased Poly9 and Placebase – two companies focused on mapping softwares and location databases – also followed by various job postings Apple put up on its site, asking for map engineers and navigation experts to bring Maps for iOS “to the next level.” Putting this information together, many believed Apple skipped iOS 4 only to bring its new and improved maps to iOS 5, set to become publicly available later this year, perhaps in the Fall. Apple also briefly mentioned in the location tracking Q&A that they’re building an “improved traffic service” to launch in the next couple of years, giving more credence to the reports of Apple developing its own system, rather than an additional layer to Google Maps.
Others also suggested the disputes between Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as the competition with Android might be the reason behind Apple’s intention to drop Google Maps from iOS. While it might be true that Apple would rather use its own map solution rather than someone else’s, it’s worth noting that Google Maps is the de-facto solution for online maps (used by millions of users every day) and other Google services are embedded in iOS, such as Gmail integration and search.
Maps+ by IZE, released earlier today in the App Store for iPhone and iPad, is a new free application that aims at enhancing the standard iOS map experience by plugging directly into Google Maps and adding several new features and interface improvements that turn the mapping software into a powerful location and social sharing tool. Maps+ supports Google Maps’ standard views (standard, satellite, hybrid, terrain) and allows you to quickly switch between them with a vertical three-finger swipe that may result unintuitive on the iPhone, but works really well on the iPad. What impressed me about Maps+ upon first launch is the way the app lets you customize the buttons that will overlay the standard map. From a translucent editing interface, you can drag buttons (settings, alarms, fetch position, Twitter, route and track) onto the map in pre-selected spots running along the top and the corners of the map screen.
Maps+ can get your current position, as well as search for specific addresses. Once you’ve found an address on Google Map, Maps+ can get you there with directions for driving, walking and bicycling (the selection happens from an iPad-like popover menu), give you different routes and check out the destination point in greater detail from a dedicated screen. Here, you can choose to “route here” or “drop pin”, add the place to your bookmarks, copy or mail the link and even export to GPX for viewing this information on your computer or other compatible apps. There’s more: you can use location-based alarms to be notified when you hit a place of particular interest and, if your device supports multitasking, alarm monitoring and (another feature of Maps) GPS track recording will work in the background. Among all the little additions to Google Maps and the functionalities you can check in the full app description on iTunes, one that really surprised me is Twitter integration within maps: thanks to Twitter’s geolocation support, once logged in with Maps+ you’ll be able to see your friends and people you follow on a Map, see who replied to you and where and even report spammers from Maps+. The developers describe it as a complete Twitter client, only displayed on a map.
Maps+ is free, but some features need to be unlocked at $2.99 via in-app purchase. Here’s what you get with the free edition:
- Labels are limited to 1.
- Pin bookmarks are limited to 3.
- Route bookmarks are limited to 1.
- Route transit points are limited to 2.
- Track bookmarks are limited to 1.
- Track recording is limited to 2 km.
- Alarm bookmarks are limited to 1.
- Importing bookmarks from GPX is disabled.
- Logging in to Twitter is disabled.
If you’re serious about maps on your iOS device, forget the Google Maps webapp and Apple’s own application and go get Maps+ now. It’s powerful, well-designed, easy to use and Twitter integration adds a lot of value, and a welcome social aspect.
It’s no secret Apple is working on new functionalities for its iPhone and iPad Maps application to introduce in iOS 5, but a new job posting on Apple’s website seems to confirm that the focus for the next major version of Maps will a completely new user interface, and a series of “innovative features” that, supposedly, will dramatically change the look and feel of the app. Apple already emphasized in the past through other job postings that they were looking for engineers to bring Maps “to the next level” with deeper integration with navigation software, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the team is still looking for new designers and developers to enhance the Maps experience.
Come work for the team that revolutionized the mobile technology industry as it continues to define what computing looks like in a post-PC era. The Maps team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. Along with excellent skills in object-oriented software design and programming, the successful candidate will have real-world experience developing sophisticated user interfaces. Excellent communication skills are also a must, as you will be collaborating closely with Apple’s peerless human interface team to add new and innovative features.
Whether the new version of Maps will be bundled with iOS 5 is still unknown at this point; Apple confirmed last week that they are currently working on an improved traffic service to launch in the next years, but several reports in the past indicated iOS 5 – coming out later this year, with a preview at the WWDC in June – would be heavily based on location, Maps, and other cloud-oriented features. Many even speculated Apple could leverage its own version of mapping software, thus ditching Google Maps, to build a new social location service to include in the new MobileMe / iCloud. Speculation about the new iOS Maps application is running wild lately, and the job postings from Apple do nothing but increase the amount of guesses and rumors we’re hearing on the subject. Seeing an improved Maps app in June wouldn’t surprise anyone, but it’s unclear how many of the new functionalities Apple is working on will be rolled out this year with iOS 5. [via 9to5mac]