Real-time Technology Glossary

An ever-growing repository of technical terms around real-time technology and beyond.

What is a Map (Mapping) API?

A Map API (also known as Mapping API) provides location intelligence for software developers creating location-based products and services. It is the base building block for location-aware applications, feature-rich maps and the retrieval of geographic-related data. It allows you to create location-aware infographics, mind maps and visualization aids.

A typical Map API includes features for geocoding, reverse geocoding, geolocation, directions and navigation, touch-screen interaction, different types of maps (e.g. terrain or satellite) and customizable control objects.

  • Maps: Developers can customize maps with context- and industry-relevant data overlays using widgets, gadgets, markers, graphics, images and popups. Maps are interactive and informative alternatives to textual content. They provide an easy-to-use, cost-effective tool for small businesses branding and customer engagement.
  • Data: Software developers use map APIs to retrieve location data, e.g. proximity details about places, traveling distances and durations between endpoints, region statistics and area-based consumer trends, to use in bespoke applications and mashups.
  • Statistics: Researchers use map APIs to identify anomalies in weather patterns, track disease outbreaks in health management programs, plot disaster management grids and discover patterns in customer buying patterns.

Unfortunately, map APIs can’t brew coffee, but they can point you in the direction of your nearest Starbucks.

Why Use a Map API?

Benefits of Mapping APIs include:

  • Standardize application development and data retrieval methods.
  • Reduce costs by utilizing open-source tools.
  • Increase your digital business presence since most users will research a business with maps before visiting it in person
  • Avoid writing standard code routines that already exist 'out there.'
  • Accelerate digital development using Agile methodologies.
  • Integrate business partnerships and suppliers in your industry.
  • Simplify your IT model using recognized protocols.
  • Use pattern-based data analytics for insights traditional reporting doesn’t provide.
  • Go Global: a Map API doesn’t care where you are based and often includes localization features.

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