Google intros Maps Engine API for custom-made, cloud-based maps

Google touts that its new Maps Engine API can be used for virtually any kind of application, with business use cases ranging from healthcare to retail.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Google has introduced a new API for its Maps Engine, touted to enable developers to build "endless kinds of applications" all while hosted in the Internet giant's cloud.

To recall, The Maps Engine is essentially the reincarnation of Google Earth Builder, which lets developers use Google's cloud infrastructure for storing and managing their own geospatial data and maps.

Users can also use the service to share their custom Google Maps with other employees, clients, and the public-at-large.

Touted to be supported by "any platform" (i.e. Web, Android, iOS, etc.), the new API will provide a link between developers' apps and the Maps Engine for editing geospatial data.

The Maps Engine API is a RESTful API, meaning that all requests to the API are HTTP requests. Thus, any programming language with an HTTP library can be used to query or modify data in this API.

However, developers should know that Google's API client libraries currently don't support the JavaScript Object Notation standard format returned by the Google Maps Engine API.

Google product manager Jen Kovnats pointed toward some particular business use cases in a blog post on Wednesday.

For example, FedEx.com uses the API to query its more than 50,000 retail locations and IRIS creates applications for utilities to track underground pipelines.

FedEx IT manager Pat Doyle explained further in a separate blog post how the API ties in with other Google services, such as Google Street View and driving directions.

By hosting attributes, such as street addresses, opening hours, holiday schedules and local pick-up times on Maps Engine, we can update details for nearly 50,000 retail touchpoints in real-time and share this information to FedEx.com visitors within minutes. This helped us replace a patchwork of region-bound store locators with a single, global site.

Interested developers and existing Google Maps Engine customers can contact the Google sales team now about signing up for access to the API.

Image via The Google Enterprise Blog

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