•  April 10, 2019

    All 13 Google Maps APIs Explained with Examples

    As a leading Google Maps Partner, we end up explaining how Google Maps APIs work as licensed product offerings on a regular basis. To elaborate, Google breaks Google Maps Platform products down into three categories: Maps, Routes, and Places.

    It is important to note that all these APIs work alongside Dynamic Maps and Dynamic Street View, which are considered a Maps product, as well as Current Place; which is considered a Places product. All three of these products include JavaScript support for both iOS and Android. 

    See examples:

    To learn more about getting started with Google Maps Platform, download our Mapping Platform Comparison Guide.


    Static Maps API – Maps Static API allows for the basic embed of a Maps image without JavaScript. This allows you to embed the map as a regular image within any given web page.

    Elevation API – Relatively self-explanatory, the Elevation API creates a value for all surfaces of the earth (including underwater elevations).

    Static Street View API – Like the Static API, the street view API allows you to embed a Google Street View as a regular image without requiring JavaScript.

    Maps Embed API – The Embed API allows you to embed Maps and Street views as an iFrame, and unlike static Maps allows for unlimited volume at no cost.


    Roads API – The Roads API parses through GPS crumbs and snaps them back onto the road, a feature that addresses the inaccuracies of GPS data. Roads API also provides metadata for enterprise customers. Some examples of Google Maps Platform Roads API include building asset trackers (you could visualize different colors for the different speeds vehicles in your fleet are driving, or how fast a runner was moving on a fitness app at the time). 

    Distance Matrix API – Using the Distance Matrix API, you can track distances and travel times between points in an optimized fashion. It is important to know that Distance Matrix API calls may not be made over non-Google maps. You must overlay Distance Matrix API data on a Google base map.

    Directions API – The directions API determines direction (not distance or travel times, like the Distance Matrix API). You are not allowed to make any app that is a “substitute” for Google Maps using this API. Any navigation, directory, or general mapping application (i.e. MapGeo) may not use this API.


    Geocoding API – Geocoding converts addresses into lat/long (and other types of) coordinates. You can also reverse geocode using this API (converting addresses and objects into coordinates).

    Geolocation API – The Geolocation API allows you to receive location and accuracy radii for different points based on their proximity to cell towers and wi-fi connections. For example, companies like Uber use geolocation to show the driver where the passenger may be standing (i.e. inside or outside a building).

    Place Details API – To pull up known Google Places data, you can use the Places API. Places are businesses and other reverse-geocoded objects (a fancy term for points of interest).

    Place Photos API – Place photos are considered a separate product, and can be billed separately than place details. 

    Time Zone API – Through an HTTPS interface, Google Maps Time Zone API assigns a timestamp to any given location. The Time Zone API is pay-as-you-go.

    Autocomplete API – The autocomplete API   

    Maps API Pricing – Why license through a Google Premier Partner

    Partner tier discounts are just one of the advantages for organizations who align with Google Premier Partner for Maps licensing. You can expect a higher degree of responsiveness and communication while working with a partner. At Sanborn, comprehensive spatial expertise comes in handy when deploying Maps-based applications.

    At Sanborn, we offer:

    • Access to five additional volume discount tiers
    • Additional pricing options
    • Enhanced communication between your organization and Google
    • Quarterly business reviews
    • Years of mapping and spatial expertise
    Mapping API Comparison Google ESRI

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