I have my disagreements with Google, but we’re on the level more often than not. You see, Google agrees with me that address entry pages on the Internet are stupid. They’re slow, tedious and only serve to slow me down as I’m rushing to buy some awesome new toy or t-shirt on one of those deal-a-day Web sites. Surely there’s a better way besides just using one of the many add-ons available for Firefox and Chrome that enter your address each time you get to a page like that.
It turns out that Google has built the solution right into Google Places. During a Hangout last week, the Google Places team demoed autocomplete for Google Places. It brings the autocomplete that Google Search is known for to the Places API. While it brings up an address as a single line of text by default, you can put the address into a structured format for things like address entry pages by using either the Autocomplete.getPlace() method of the Maps API, or you can just the simple Places API Details service.
If you run a Web site that features a lovely address entry form, you might want to consider using the Google Places Autcomplete feature. You can tune it to favor certain areas in autocomplete as well if you’re expecting to get business from mostly one area or country.
Besides making address entry pages bearable, Google announced two new changes to Google Places Autocomplete that should make it better for administrators and consumers. The first change is country filtering so that you can restrict autocompletes to certain countries. If you’re certain that only U.S. consumers will order from your site, then you can make sure that autocomplete will always go with U.S. addresses.
The other filter is for city and region types. This is for those that are searching for more detailed places in autocomplete besides just states or larger cities. You can now search via autocomplete using zipcodes. This should make the Places autocomplete even more fine tuned to find the place you’re looking for.
If you want to start using autocomplete in your Google Places application, you can get the latest places library for the Google Maps API here. If you’re building a native Places app, then you can also take advantage of the Google Places API.
Google also offers a demo on the blog post that lets you try out autocomplete in Google Places. The demo has you searching for hotels which funny enough brought me results for the Kappa Omega sorority in Lexington, KY. I guess they could be renting out the house for the summer.
On a final note, you can use Places autocomplete on any text entry field, including address entry pages. All they ask is that you put the little “Powered by Google” logo under the text field that uses autocomplete.