What is Google Maps API, and what is it used for?
Google Maps Platform (from now on, GMP) is a set of APIs and SDKs that allow developers to embed Google Maps on websites in and retrieve data from mobile apps and website pages. With GMP, you can create better experiences for your users with rich geospatial data, real-time route optimization, and customized maps.
Google Maps API proposes to its customers three products to improve location-based experiences: Maps, Routes, and Places. These solutions provide GMP users with different APIs according to the priority company’s needs. Here are some examples of Google Maps APIs tools that enable developers with a possibility to create the newest interactive maps with more relevant data:
- Dynamic Maps. Add interactive maps for mobile and web platforms to your apps, and customize your maps.
- Static maps. Add a static map image to your site with minimal code.
- Street View Images. Add Street View panoramas to your apps.
- Dynamic Street View. Embed real-world imagery with 360° sights.
- Maps Embed. Add an interactive map or Street View panorama to your site using a simple HTTP request.
- Directions. Create routes for different modes of travel using real-time traffic information.
- Distance matrix. Calculate distance and travel time for multiple origins and destinations.
- Roads. Determine the routes a vehicle travels by coordinates.
- API and Places SDK. Integrate place descriptions, Google searches, and autocomplete functionality into your apps.
- Geocoding. Convert coordinates to addresses and vice versa.
- Geolocation. Get the approximate location of your device based on data from cell towers and Wi-Fi sites.
- Time Zones. Define time zones for sets of coordinates.
- Current Place. Discover the place at the device’s currently-reported location, like a local business, point of interest, or geographic location.
- Place Search. Return a list of places like local businesses and points of interest based on the user’s location, text query, phone number, or search string.
- Place Photos. Access millions of place-related photos stored in Google’s Places database.
- Autocomplete. Help users find the exact place they’re looking for by automatically suggesting businesses and points of interest as they type.
- Address Validation (coming soon): Correct and confirm addresses by identifying missing or incorrect components and standardizing them.
Google Maps Platform and the API Key: how to get it
Create a Google Cloud Platform Project
- Before using the GMP, you should create a Google Cloud Platform (from now, GCP) project and attach a billing account. It bears mentioning that all new GCP users receive 300 USD credit for their trial period, which can be used on any GCP product, including GMP.
- When you’re setting up a billing account, it is time to create a project in Google Admin Console. Note that your project name can not be changed from this moment.
- While you create your first project, you select a billing account for this project. You will not need to use the other selection options if you have only one billing account.
- If you have any organization that you want to link to this project, click on it. If not, just leave this field like this and click Create.
Enable APIs or SDKs
From now on, you become a user of GMP. In your further steps, you should enable your APIs and SDK (software development kit) that will allow you to use the tools of Maps, Places, or Routes on your apps and sites. You can do this directly from your Google Cloud Platform project in four simple steps.
- Go to the Google Cloud Platform console. Do not forget to check your project for it to correspond to the one you want to use now.
- Then go to the Menu, find the Google Maps option, and select APIs.
You will see all the APIs and SDKs available to enable your project here.
- To enable API, select the one you want to enable and click on it. On the opened page, you will see all the information about the API, including pricing and documentation. Then, you should click on Enable.
- Once the API is enabled, you can use it. Here, you can see some additional APIs you did not enable and view all the metrics and data of your enabled API, including traffic, error, etc.
Now that you enabled your API, the next step is to generate the API key.
Generate the API Key
The API key is a unique identifier that allows Google to identify who requests access to the platform and verify that they have permission to do so. The API key also tells GCP which project the requested usage should be billed in. You must have at least one API key Google Maps associated with your project.
- Select the menu, find APIs and Services, and then select Credentials.
- Next, you should click on the Create credentials button and select an API key from a drop menu.
Once you do it, you will see a pop-up with your new API key. You can also see it in the list on the page Credentials.
After creating an API Key, you can restrict it to prevent harmful use if your google maps key is ever stolen. All the further steps are also intuitively understandable through the GCP console. For more information about working with the GCP console, to get any help generating or restricting your API Key, or to learn more about Google Maps API pricing or usage, you can contact our team.
Cloudfresh GMP experts will help you start your way towards building the modern interactive maps experience for your customers and will provide you with all the information about GMP features and support on creating and using Google Maps API and other GCP products.
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