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Day 1 done! We had a great first day at Google I/O—more than 800 developers visited our Geo sandbox to check out apps, play with 360 degree cameras and most importantly, chat with our engineers, product managers, and developer advocates about the apps they’re building.
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The Geo sandbox features Sugarbear, a 1959 PD-4104 General Motors Coach that measures 35’ long by 8’ wide with a diesel engine outfitted for biodiesel. Sugarbear made an epic trip across the USA after last year’s I/O and we’ve brought her back this year for more demo fun. You can engage with interactive maps experiences and check out customer applications inside the bus. Climb Yosemite's El Capitan, calculate your solar potential with Project Sunroof, and see how Nest and the Environmental Defense Fund use location data to make our lives better. Sugarbear also features Google Maps APIs customers Trucker Path, Zendrive, Postmates, GTX Corp and Vagabond.
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The Google I/O event shuttle buses are also being tracked and visualized in real time by an app we built using Firebase and Google Maps APIs. Within the Geo sandbox you can check out the app on the big screen and chat with the developers about how it works on the inside (hint: ask for Brett).

Geo also hosted one session yesterday: Location and Proximity Superpowers: Eddystone + Google Beacon Platform and we have several additional sessions on Thursday and Friday, including Understand your Place in this world and Building geo services that scale.

Finally, don’t forget about our office hours—scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at 4pm. We’ll be in the tent for an hour...bring your Maps and Location questions for our Product Managers and Developer Advocates.

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Google I/O starts in just 24 hours! We’re looking forward to three days of insightful developer conversations, amazing technology and great weather. This year, Google Maps APIs engineers, technical support engineers, product managers, ux-ers, technical writers and developer advocates are traveling from Sydney, New York and Seattle to spend time in the Geo sandbox and demonstrate the power of our APIs. We'll also hold Office Hours to answer your implementation questions.
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Here are three of our featured sessions for this year’s event:

Understand your place in this world
May 19, 9:00 AM
Humans navigate a world made up of places with names, addresses and phone numbers—not lat/long coordinates. The Google Places API enables an app or website to present location data to users in a human-friendly fashion. In this session we’ll do a deep dive into how you can use the Places API to discover your environment. We’ll give detailed insights into how to use the APIs on web and mobile, show off some newly-released widgets, and take a look at how you can optimize for mobile device battery life. You’ll learn how the Places API can make all your apps— not just map-centric ones—smarter.

Building geo services that scale
May 19, 2:00 PM
Not all map and geo applications run entirely on your mobile device. Perhaps you want to protect your keys or other API access data from reverse engineering by putting them in the cloud, or you have custom business logic that you run on your server that you don't want to distribute via mobile. To protect your keys and API access data you'll need to operate some kind of service. In this session you'll learn how to build that service on the Google Cloud Platform and consume it in a mobile application that uses the Google Maps APIs.

Streamlining developer experiences with the Google Maps APIs
May 20, 9:00 AM
The Google Maps APIs provide a seamless experience for developers of all levels. Some want to offer a map or navigation but don't want to build these things themselves; this can be achieved with just a few lines of code. Other developers prefer to integrate natively with off-the-shelf widgets. Finally, some developers want complete control over every aspect of the presentation. This session will highlight the Maps APIs representing the full gamut of the developer experiences, enabling you to get going immediately and scale as necessary. You'll see how widgets and services can be added over time with a suite of Maps APIs, services and libraries.

We hope you’re able to attend at least one of these sessions to learn directly from Google Maps APIs experts. And, don’t forget to stop by the Geo sandbox to chat—just look for the big bus! If you’re not able to join us in person this year, you can always keep up with our activities via Twitter or G+.

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The Google Maps APIs team are keen to ensure that our customers and developer community has the most up to date and useful information about using our APIs. With that goal in mind, we’ve added RSS feeds to the Release Notes for all the Maps and Places APIs.

Until now, if you wanted to see news about our releases, you’d need to visit individual API release notes pages periodically. We don't typically announce bug-fix or other small releases via the blog or social media but these are often critical for segments of our developer community.

You can now subscribe to individual API feeds and receive updates automatically when release notes are published. We'll continue to publish all Release Notes on the website as well. Feeds available today:
Google Maps Android API 
Google Maps SDK for iOS 
Google Maps JavaScript API 
Google Maps Directions API 
Google Maps Distance Matrix API 
Google Places API for Android 
Google Places API for iOS 
Google Maps Android API Premium Plan 
Google Maps SDK for iOS Premium Plan 

I’ve been a technical writer at Google since 2013. I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to play with code and words, and to make them play nicely with each other. Maps are beautiful, and the docs help people weave stories around geography and places.
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I’ll be at I/O next week, so I hope to see you there at our Geo sandbox (just look for the bus). Happy mapping!

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Last week we launched the Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.13. This release includes the ability to create advanced marker animations, the option of auto refreshing info windows, the ability to set the frame rate up to 60 frames per second, further custom styling for the Place Autocomplete widget, and a new mapViewSnapshotReady event.

Advanced marker animations and auto-refreshing of info windows

Ever wanted to have rotating markers or use a grow and glow marker animation?

With the Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.13, we have introduced an iconView property for marker icons, giving you the animation capabilities of a UIView. Because iconView accepts a UIView, you can have a hierarchy of standard UI controls defining your markers, each view having the standard set of animation capabilities. The iconView property supports animation of all animatable properties of UIView except frame and center. Take a look at our documentation to get started.

We've also included the option to auto-refresh info windows, which is particularly useful if you want to use a static web page as info window content but it hasn’t downloaded by the time you create your info window. By using the new marker property tracksInfoWindowChanges, you can have the info window automatically refresh when the static web page loads.

Frame rate up to 60 fps with graceful fallback

You can now take advantage of a new enum, GMSFrameRate, which has three options: kGMSFrameRatePowerSave (15fps), kGMSFrameRateConservative (30fps), and the default kGMSFrameRateMaximum (60fps with 30fps fallback). In order to protect devices that don't handle 60fps well, we do a run-time device model check and the preferredFrameRate is silently downgraded to 30fps when necessary on older devices.

Autocomplete widget styling

In Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.12 we announced the iOS Places autocomplete widget. With the release of iOS 1.13, you can now add further custom styling to your autocomplete widget to create a consistent visual identity.

To set widget UI element colors:

  1. Use the native iOS Appearance Proxy system when possible to globally style UI controls. The Places autocomplete widget will honor these settings.
  2. Use the new SDK methods on widget classes to set colors which the Appearance Proxy system doesn't support.

Our documentation highlights which elements can be customized using the Appearance Proxy, and which can be customized by using the SDK methods.


mapViewSnapshotReady event

We heard your requests to provide a clear signal that all tiles have been rendered and the map has finished loading. In Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.11 we included start/finish events for map tile and Street View panorama rendering.

In this release, we've added a mapViewSnapshotReady event that indicates that the map is stable (tiles loaded, labels rendered, camera idle) and overlay objects have been rendered. This is useful if you want to do a transition away from the map, but need a static image of the map in case you want to transition back. The mapViewSnapshotReady event will ensure that the static image will truly represent the state of the map.

A big thank you to iOS developers for using the Google Maps SDK and submitting feedback via the issue tracker!

Take a look at our release notes and update to Google Maps SDK for iOS 1.13 today.

Posted by Megan Boundey, Product Manager, Google Maps Mobile APIs

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Many of you have been asking for Google Places API search results that more closely reflect those on maps.google.com. With that goal in mind, we’ve integrated the Places API with Google Maps search. We’re pleased to offer more consistent search results across Maps and the Places API, which results in better overall search quality for API responses.

In conjunction with this change, we are also modifying how we support place type restrictions in the Places API web service and JavaScript library. Beginning Feb 16, 2016, we are replacing the types restriction parameter with a new type search parameter. If you have been using the types parameter for Nearby Search, Text Search or Radar Search you will be affected.

Type search works similarly to types restriction, but it only supports one type per request.

Requests using the types parameter and those specifying multiple types (for example, types=hospital|pharmacy|doctor) will continue to return results until Feb 16, 2017, but we do not recommend using multiple types in a search request. After that date, requests with multiple types will no longer be supported. To ensure the best possible search results for your users, we recommend using a single type in search requests.

Using the new type search feature is straightforward. Here is an example of a Text Search request:
https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/place/textsearch/json
?type=airport
&location=-33.87,151.21
&radius=5000
&key=<YOUR_API_KEY>
In addition, we are amending the list of supported types. The types establishment, food, health, general_contractor, finance and place_of_worship, will not be available as searchable types from Feb 16, 2017. However these types will still be returned in search and details results.

Posted by Marcelo Camelo, on behalf of the Google Places API team

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We celebrated our last ‘Code the Road’ Europe stop in London where the team got an early start in our Code Lab building an Android app using the Google Maps APIs.
Ed Boiling, Maps API sales engineer, led the Code Lab workshop where developers created an Android application using the Google Maps Android API and connected it to a Google Cloud Platform datastore. The Code Lab covered concepts including using Android Studio, creating a Google Maps activity, drawing data on the map, capturing the user's location, and adding location based rules to control the application logic. It also introduced the developers to Google Cloud Platform via the Cloud Endpoints integration in Android studio, allowing them to easily add and deploy a Google App Engine based API and datastore for their application to use.
This was not before trying out a Code the Road favorite—Pegman Skydiving. Using a camera, Maps APIs, and your arms the program can detect how you might look skydiving over a specific locale.
In the afternoon Kerstin Pittl, a lead engineer for Maps APIs from OniGroup, discussed how companies can use the “blue dot” on Google Maps in their applications and how partners can help them integrate it into their map.
Pittl was followed by Dan Hubert, the founder of Appyparking. Appyparking helps drivers across the United Kingdom understand parking regulations and find open parking spaces. The app color codes parking spots to show drivers where there’s free parking, where restrictions apply and where special types of spaces – such as electric-car charging and motorbike spots – are located.

We’re already planning our next roadtrip. We hope to see you at one of our future Code the Road stops!

Posted by Michael St. Germain, Associate Product Marketing Manager, Google Maps APIs

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People around the world want to know how they can help the refugees and migrants caught up in the crisis in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. As part of Code the Road Europe, we partnered with Ubilabs, a Google Maps for Work partner, to host a 24-hour hackathon dedicated to helping expand RefugeeMaps.eu, Ubilabs’ open sourced platform to help the refugees in Hamburg and throughout Europe.

RefugeeMaps.eu highlights local points of interest that are relevant to refugees new to a particular area, including libraries, recreational facilities and other important landmarks. The goal is to take local knowledge from volunteers and make it easy for someone new to the area to orient themselves and find resources that will help them settle in quickly.
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We kicked-off the hackathon with a presentation from Barbara Kopf, a refugee activist and the manager of the institution ‘Freizeithaus Kirchdorf’. She provided context for what refugees need and how they can help. Then, we had Thomas Steiner, an engineer in the Google Hamburg office, and Martin Kleppe from Ubilabs talk about the technical aspects around the platform. To support the effort, Ed Boiling, Google Maps APIs Sales Engineer, presented 10 Google Maps APIs in 10 minutes, then it was time to start start coding.
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Six groups of developers formed and spent the rest of the night designing, coding, and working together to find ways to improve RefugeeMaps.eu with, of course, lots of coffee and snacks.
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After 24 hours, we all came together to review the improvements which included:

  • Improvement to the front end design and UX optimization based on language preferences, making it easier for refugees to navigate the platform based on their preference for Arabic, English or German.
  • A function that makes it easier for refugees to print out select, zoomed-in areas of the map. Not all refugees have cell phones, especially women and children, so one group decided it was important to make sure it was easy for someone to print out maps to make it truly offline.
  • Addition of new places. Currently, only local volunteers with access to a master spreadsheet can add locations; however, one group added a function that makes it easier for anyone to add in a location through the interface of the map. This then updates the master spreadsheet.
  • A native offline Android app. Offline is important for the refugees that might not have data plans, so one group created a native Android app that could be used offline.
  • No server solution. To make it easier to run the platform, developers made a solution that did not require a server-side.
  • A performance boost. Developers added back-end changes to allow for caching of resources for offline use.

Here is the improvement we made to the front end design:
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We were so impressed by all of the improvements that the developers made over the 24 hour period. While the hackathon is officially over, we also extend our invitation to collaborate on the project to external developers who could not attend the hackathon. You can find the code and all info on GitHub as well as a live demo instance of RefugeeMaps.eu online.

Posted by Hena Haines, Product Marketing Manager, Google Maps APIs