Out of all the APIs that Google has released updates for this year, it seems that Google Places is the one they love the most. It has consistently received the biggest and best updates that really help developers take advantage of the powerful tools it offers. The latest update further solidifies the fact that Google is playing favorites.
At Google I/O, the company announced four new features for the Google Places API that are sure to delight those who work with it. These new features have been heavily requested by users. If your requested feature didn't make it in, keep on asking for it. They're bound to add it in one day.
The biggest addition to the API is obviously Google Reviews. The reviews are a part of Google+ Local, the company's bid to get small businesses using Google+. Instead of having to go to Google+ to see reviews of a location, the Google Places API now returns the top five reviews of any location. Each review features the score, author details and the date in which the review was written.
Google introduced search to the Google Places API back in May as a way to find locations by keyword. Keywords can only do so much though, so Google is now introducing text search to the Places API. Now users can search for places with what they're looking for and where they're looking for it. Google uses the example of "Sushi near Sydney." It's a great way to get more results without having to be exact with the keywords.
Another big improvement is the addition of the opening hours for businesses in the Places API. If you have your business' hours listed via Google Places, then those times will be retrieved by the API. There is also a new value that will allow apps to return whether or not a place is currently open alongside the business hours.
Last but certainly not least, Google is increasing the amount of search results that are returned when using the Places API. It used to only return the top 20 results, but users can now have up to 60 results returned to them. It's especially useful if the user is in a big city and there are more than 20 restaurants in the area.
Head over to the Google Geo Developers blog to try out all the new features that have been added to the API. While you're at it, check out the new dedicated Web site just for the Google Places API. With all the love being shown for the Places API, I can't wait until we're able to track those awesome traveling taco carts in real time via Google Places.