Google Maps API released today. Look for Google Maps PM Bret Taylor to talk about it in his Where 2.0 talk. I saw this yesterday and was blown away with their attention to detail. The map hackers who were there asked a lot of tricky questions and got a lot of satisfaction from the answers. For example, you can plot custom overlaid icons and the API gives you control over shadows and the orientation of the icon (e.g., is the speech bubble coming from the bottom left or the top right?).
Important things to note:
- There’s no routing API, it’s just mapping at the moment
- There’s no geocoding (you’ll still need to scrape to get that info)
- There’s no local search.
This is a fantastic first step at a legit API from Google (don’t underestimate the pain of their negotiations with data providers who are not comfortable with these free services) and there’s plenty more innovations to come.