The crowd at Where 2.0 was expecting an API announcement and Google delivered one. Lior Ron and Steve Lee announced their Maps Data API, a service for hosting geodata. As they describe it on the site:
What is it?
The Google Maps Data API allows client applications to view, store and update map data in the form of Google Data API feeds using a data model of features (placemarks, lines and shapes) and maps (collections of features).
Why Use the Google Maps Data API?
- Storage scales simply with usage. You shouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a data store to build a cool Google Maps mashup. Focus on building the client, and we’ll provide hosting and bandwidth for free.
- Geodata is accessible across platforms and devices. With many client libraries and clients, accessing stored geodata is possible from anywhere, whether it’s on the web, a mobile phone, a 3D application, or even a command line.
- Realtime geodata requires realtime indexing. For a lot of geographic content, freshness is important. Geodata from the Google Maps Data API can be instantly indexed and made searchable in Google Maps.
Google is launching with some sample apps:
- My Maps Editor for Android allows users to create and edit personalized maps from an Android mobile phone. Integration with the phone’s location and camera makes it easy to document a trip with photos and text on a map.
- ConnectorLocal is a service that informs users about the places where they live, work and visit by gathering trusted hyperlocal information from many sources. Using the Google Maps Data API, ConnectorLocal makes it easy for users to import and export geodata in and out of Google Maps, and also improves their ability to have data indexed in Google Maps for searching.
- My Tracksenables Android mobile phone users to record GPS tracks and view live statistics while jogging, biking, or participating in other outdoor activities. Stored with Google Maps Data API, these tracks can be accessed, edited and shared using the My Maps feature in Google Maps.
- Platial, a social mapping service for people and places, uses the Google Maps API to host geodata for community maps on both Platial and Frappr.
Geo data can get very large very quickly. Serving it can get expensive. This Data API will help NGOs, non-profits and developers make their data available without breaking the bank. Google’s goals for doing this are obvious. If the data is on their servers they can index it easier and make it readily available to their users. There will be concern that Google will have too much of their data, but as long as Google does not block other search engines and allows developers to remove their data I think that this will be a non-issue.
The crowd was hoping for a formal Latitude API to be announced (knowing that they launched the hint of one at the beginning of May). When I asked Lior and Steve about it we got some smiles. I think we’ll see some more movement in this area, but not *just* yet.