The Most Significant New Google Maps Platform Capabilities for 2020

Google periodically releases new capabilities for the Google Maps Platform (GMP). Despite the tumultuous events and environment, 2020 was a very good year for new GMP features.

As the data science and sales enablement practice lead for Hexagon’s Google Partnership, I’ve gotten an up-close look at what’s new from Google, including customer-requested features. Here’s a quick take on the most significant new capabilities for 2020.

1. Local Context

This new feature provides a simple way to add Google Places API local information to your website’s maps. The feature is especially useful for real estate websites, where local information such as schools, restaurants, and fire stations could be shown alongside real estate listings. While these capabilities have been available with the Places API, Local Context makes implementing this user experience much easier to deploy and more cost effective overall.

2. Maps Customization

The Google Maps Javascript API has always had the ability to create uniquely styled maps from the base map content found in the public Google Maps. Now, the new Maps Customization features make it easier to create custom maps styles and manage your custom map styles using the Google Cloud Console. This includes a new style authoring tool as well as more advanced styling features such as using vector styles and more advanced control of how points are displayed.

BONUS: Autocomplete Widget for Google Places

Are you confused by the many options available for deploying Places Autocomplete? Or maybe you’re already using Autocomplete but are frustrated by high costs? Hexagon has developed the new Spartan Autocomplete Widget to help address these challenges.

The widget was developed to help you:

  • Implement with ease into your existing application
  • Improve results with built-in developer guidance, ensuring an implementation that makes better predictions with fewer keystrokes
  • Optimize cost with efficient API calls for just the data you need

Contact our team to get started with the Spartan Autocomplete Widget.

Google shows continued signs for adding new features and capabilities in 2021. These developments are likely to include improved best practices for more modern store finder applications, standard approaches for financial services applications, and new address validation approaches. We work hard to keep our customers and friends apprised of new developments from Google. To stay on top of, and to learn more about these kinds of developments, please consider signing up for our Google Maps Navigator newsletter.

If you have some time, check out these additional resources from Google.

  1. Local Context website from Google
  2. Announcing Local Context beta blog from Google
  3. Your questions about Local Context answered blog from Google
  4. Maps Customization website from Google
  5. Introducing new Maps customizations feature blog from Google
  6. Custom map styling with the Google Maps APIs on Android and iOS blog from Google
  7. The Google Maps Platform website