Google Maps is getting a tuneup to help businesses take advantage of new location-based features and products.
The web giant on Wednesday introduced the Google Maps Platform, a collection of streamlined APIs designed to help third-party developers incorporate location-based features into their apps. The first companies to benefit from the updates will be ride-sharing companies and businesses that need to track their vehicles' locations in real time.
Google says integration of Google Maps' turn-by-turn navigation into ride-sharing apps will help get passengers to their destination faster and safer.
"Instead of having to switch back and forth between apps, drivers efficiently control their queue and see passenger info all in one place, making it easier to manage rides and get to where they're going," a Google spokesperson said, adding that Lyft was already a customer.
The feature is also expected to help companies managing a fleet of vehicles on a daily basis, helping locate vehicles in real time, seeing where they have traveled and routing vehicles on complex journeys.
The announcement underscores the company's growing ambition for Google Maps to be more than just a destination for maps and directions. With more than a billion users, it's become a tool for local recommendations, real-time info on how busy a restaurant is, and a cheat sheet to remember where you parked your car.
The location-based updates build on the Google Maps "location sharing" feature unveiled last year that lets users reveal their exact location to a contact for a certain period of time. It also lets you share a driving or walking route if you're going from one place to another, and your friends will be able to see your progress on the map.
Google said it was simplifying its core API experience to make it easier for developers to create location-based apps. The company has combined 18 individual APIs into three core products — Maps, Routes and Places.
Google said the new APIs will work with developers' existing code without the need for modification.
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