Google Maps API Gets Transit, Symbols, Heatmap Layers; Now Locates Pot Farms

Developer & Design

Share this Post

The buzz of all things Google continues at the Google I/O conference, meaning there are some announcements that may trigger the interest of Google Maps API users.

Perhaps the most notable addition to the inventory of Google Maps API is the inclusion of public transit directions that can be used in Google Maps Javascript v3 and the Directions Web Service. According to an accompanying post on the Geo Developers Blog, "the transit route responses include the number of stops, direction of travel, and more." The blog post includes an interactive demo of the transit layer, of which you can see an image of below:

Google Maps API Transit Layer

Google Maps API Product Manager Thor Mitchell announced two additional features arriving for the Javascript Maps API: Symbols and Heatmaps. Elaborating on the Symbols tool in a blog post, Mitchell described the new feature:

Unlike the image icons currently used for marking locations on a map, a Symbol is defined as a vector shape. The size, stroke width, color, and opacity of the shape, are all set by the Maps API application and can be dynamically modified. A small number of shapes, such as a circle, are provided by the Maps API, and custom shapes can be expressed as an SVG path.

Below's an example of Symbols at work, this one illustrating how Walmart slowly colonized the southern United States in its early stages of retail domination.

Google Maps API Symbols

If you want to indicate any kind of directional flow on a map, Symbols can also be used to spruce up polylines on a map:

Google Maps API Symbols

Finally, if the symbol method isn't how you'd like to represent your data on a Google Map, developers now have the option of representing data as a heatmap. Using the same data about Walmart's conquest of the United States retail landscape, below you can see the information represented differently with the heatmap:

Google Maps API Heatmap

The full Google Maps presentation at Google I/O can be watched below:

Concerning the lead image of the article, that was an example that Google Maps VP Brian McClendon used to explain how Google confirms users' additions from Google Mapmaker and how, sometimes, the Google Powers That Be can't really fix everything that people submit.

Perhaps, in other words, some things are better left "unfixed." But any rate, just for the sake of being clear, there is not a Google Maps layer to show you where to find the nearest marijuana farms.