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Meet the next generation of mobile-optimized maps

A customized map can be key to delivering a frictionless experience that engages users and sets you apart in users’ minds–whether you’re a real estate company fine-tuning points of interest (POIs) on a map to help buyers decide where to live, or a regional pharmacy styling a map to ensure your locations stand out from the competition. That’s why we’ve focused on empowering you with these capabilities through features like POI density and POI filtering controls, zoom level customization, and even industry-optimized map styles. But we’re not done helping you take your map to the next level. Today, we’re making two updates generally available—a new Maps SDK for Android and the extension of Cloud-based maps styling features to our Android and iOS SDKs. Together they enhance the native mobile map experience and make it easier for you to deliver consistent, optimized maps across all your platforms. We’ll also give you an early look at additional features that we’re working on.

Update your Maps SDKs for Android for an enhanced user experience
Developers around the world depend on the Maps SDK for Android to power critical experiences like helping drivers make a delivery or helping retailers visually confirm an order’s shipping address. With consumers spending an increasing amount of time in apps, it’s more important than ever that mobile experiences meet the high consumer expectations that come with essential, everyday use. 

Today we released version 18.0.0 of the Maps SDK for Android, which delivers an enhanced map experience to app users, thanks to a new renderer. The new renderer introduces optimizations to our tile serving and rendering architecture, reducing payload size. This can help to reduce network load, on-device processing, and memory consumption for a more stable and smoother end-user experience. You’ll also see specific improvements with map labels. Now more fluid and clearly positioned, they pave the way for future marker management features. We’ve also enhanced overall gesture handling for better animations and smoother panning and zooming. 

Because the Maps SDK for Android continues to be distributed as part of the Google Play services SDK, you can upgrade to v18.0.0 along with all its improvements with no increase to your APK size.

Deploying a consistent, customized map across platforms is as simple as the push of a button with Cloud-based maps styling.

A consistent cross-platform maps experience with Cloud-based maps styling for mobile
Earlier this year at Google I/O, we announced the general availability of Cloud-based maps styling for JavaScript. Since then customers have used the richer customization capabilities and efficient cloud-enhanced deployment workflow to power millions of mapping experiences, from a curated interactive map of Munich to fun virtual Easter egg hunts hosted by Cadbury. Starting today, Cloud-based maps styling features are supported in the GA versions of our Maps SDK for Android (v18+) and Maps SDK for iOS (V5.0+).

Cloud-based maps styling moves map customization code off the client and into the cloud–where it can be easily modified to use new features or test new configurations. This decoupling of client code and customization code makes it easy to manage a single branded and optimized style across any number of apps across all supported platforms. It also makes it possible to simultaneously publish changes to a map style across platforms and install bases with the click of a button. Cloud-based maps styling is the foundation for a growing set of new customization features including POI filtering and POI boosting, zoom level customization, landmarks, and commercial corridor styling.

Zoom level customization enables customers to fine tune what users see at different zoom levels of the map.

Mobile developers can now take advantage of Cloud-based maps styling features and simple cross-platform customizations for their Dynamic Maps by creating a MapID in Google Cloud Console and using it within their Maps SDK for Android or Maps SDK for iOS. Dynamic maps loaded with a Map ID via our Maps SDK for Android or Maps SDK for iOS will be billed to the same SKU as Maps JavaScript API (Dynamic Maps) and covered under the same $200 monthly credit and volume pricing. Developers can upgrade to the new Maps SDK for Android and continue using client-styled maps for no charge as they always have. 

Additional capabilities we’re working on¹
We know you have a range of map customization needs to engage your users with differentiated experience and we’re working on developing more Cloud-based maps styling features–focused on marker capabilities, map elements, and data-driven styling–to help you do just that. We’re working on a new set of markers capabilities, easier pin customizations, marker collision management, performance optimizations, and the ability to build custom marker elements that you can use to quickly deploy deeply customized, highly optimized marker-driven experiences. For those seeking greater detail in their maps, we’re working on expanding the availability and customization of detailed street maps to even more cities. We’re also working on features to make it easier to programmatically style map elements by exposing new APIs to enable things like the simple creation of choropleths by styling Google geographical boundaries based on your data. 

This is just a peek into what we’re excited to be building for our developer community. While we’re working hard to bring these additional features to life, visit our website to learn more and our developer documentation to start customizing and enhancing your mobile maps. 

¹Product capabilities, timeframes, and features are subject to change.

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