October 13, 2022

Google Maps announces Routes API

Maps Routes API

Google Maps Platform (GMP) has recently announced a number of new features that will be available by the end of the year.

Our GMP and customer care team at Snowdrop has compiled this article about one of the new releases: Routes API.

What is Routes API?

The new Routes API is a new performance-optimised version of the existing Directions and Distance Matrix APIs, that enables businesses to provide more informative and flexible routes for users, and improves ETA (estimated time of arrival) accuracy.

The Routes API provides new advanced features including 2-wheel routes for motorbikes, tolls data, visualising real-time traffic along a route, smarter waypoints, giving developers more fine-tuned controls for faster latency, and more.

Below you can see what all these improvements are in detail.

More informative and flexible routes

2-wheel routes for motorized vehicles

Directions and distance calculations are now added for motorised two-wheeled vehicles, as they are the most common form of transport for everything in many parts of the world. The new Routes API takes into account various factors, such as whether toll roads, motorways and ferries can be avoided, and routing along roads that are not accessible to cars.

Routes API: Route Two-wheeled Vehicles
Source: Google Blog ‘A representative mock up showing a 2-wheel motorized vehicle route with toll data’

Toll calculations

Another new functionality is the toll cost display for address and distance matrix requests. Toll data provides a more accurate price on route costs, taking into account the type of vehicle (e.g. EV/hybrid) and the type of electronic toll pass.

Routes API: Toll calculations
Source: Google Blog ‘A representative mock up showing routes using tolls data’

Real-time traffic along a route

The new Routing API enables the specification of whether live or historical traffic should be taken into account in route calculations. It also gives the user control over the trade-offs between traffic and the quality and latency of polylines.

In addition, users can request traffic information along each leg of a route. This allows you to create richer experiences for your users, such as representing traffic with colour-coded polylines.

Source: Google Blog ‘A representative mock up showing real-time traffic along each leg of a route’

Fine-tuned controls to reduce latency

Besides, the new Routes API offers higher performance than the current address APIs and distance matrices.

With field masking, businesses can choose which fields are returned in the API response, such as estimated time of arrival, distance in metres, traffic conditions, and so on. This allows companies to reduce the size of the response payload and simplify it, making it easier to process.

Improved ETA accuracy

With the new Routes API businesses can define waypoints as stopping points or pass-throughs.

This is particularly useful for pick-up and drop-off use cases, as it ensures that the user will not be directed to a place where stopping is unsafe, such as a tunnel or a motorway.

Indications of the appropriate side of the road for a waypoint, or the current or desired direction of the vehicle at each waypoint, have also been improved, which can help ensure that events such as pick-ups and drop-offs are directed to the correct location.

Google has also increased the number of origin and destination points for distance matrix requests: with the Routes API, the limitation of 25 origin and 25 destination points has been removed, and up to 625 total returned items can now be set, allowing for greater flexibility.

Source: Google blog ‘A representative mock up of a route that stops the driver in a tunnel, where stopping is unsafe’
Source: Google blog ‘A representative mock up of an intermediate waypoint which stops the driver on a nearby side street away from the tunnel’

Eco-friendly routing

One of the most eagerly awaited features since Google announced it in spring 2022, will be available before the end of the years in preview for developers wherever it’s available on Google Maps.

With eco-friendly routing users will be able to discover routes optimised for lower fuel consumption, using information from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and data from the European Environment Agency.

Source: Google Blog ‘A representative mock up showing real-time traffic along each leg of a route’

This capability is of interest to delivery companies or ride-sharing services, as they can measure fuel consumption and savings on a single trip, several trips or even their entire fleet to improve their business performance.

To receive updates on the availability of this new functionality, you can sign up for Google Maps Announcement newsletter here.

If you are a developer and want to give it a try, you can try Google’s live demo here.

Want to know more?

Snowdrop Solutions is a Google Maps Premier Partner with over eight years’ experience working with leading companies to solve complex location challenges. We offer expertise, insights and owned technology which combined help our customers bring to life enhanced consumer experiences.

We deploy location data to build consumer trust. When information is not displayed in a clear way it can cause confusion and anxiety for customers: we simplify people’s lives by enabling our customers to deploy location enriched user interactions that build trust.

If you want to know more about how to add location-based services to your business, you can contact us by filling out the form below.