Collection of the Coolest Uses of the Google Maps API

Collection of the Coolest Uses of the Google Maps API

Without a doubt Google Maps has opened new windows to our world and enabled us to look at ourselves a little differently. The ingenuity of 3rd party developers using the Google Maps API has created a dazzling array of apps and tools that range from the brilliant to the bizarre. Here are 30 of the coolest waiting for you to check them out.

Cool Uses of Google Maps API

The Wilderness Downtown

Fantastic and revolutionary, Arcade Fire’s new music video The Wilderness Downtown enables web users to enter their childhood address to have Google Map images of the area appear within director Chris Milk’s film, creating instant nostalgia.

Wilderness Downtown

Tweeted Trips

Simply by tweeting, Twitter users can generate a map of their journey, whether it is a vacation, road trip or cycle tour, enabling family and friends to chart their progress.

Tweeted Trips

Zombie Outbreak Simulator

Now available as an iPhone app, Zombie Outbreak Simulator places you in peril within a Google Map of your area overrun by marauding zombies. Kill the zombies to save your neighbours, except of course the one who won’t give your ball back.

Class 3 Outbreak

Disney’s Giant Steps

One the kids will love, this Google Maps based app lets you extend an invitation to beloved Disney character Goofy, who runs right up your street to the door of your house.

Giant Steps


This highly addictive tower defence game involves placing defence towers to stop invading attackers from overrunning a world generated using 8-bit map tiles and the Google Maps API.

Maps TD

Plane Finder

Plane Finder is a rather ingenious real-time plane tracking tool that presents a clear view of the congested skies. It now also features cloud and weather layer viewing options.

Plane Finder


The smartphone app for skiers, cyclists, runners and hikers who not only want to chart their runs and routes on Google Maps, but have beautifully generated animations of them created to impress their friends.


Old Maps Online

Cartography and history enthusiasts around the globe can now get access to historical maps published online by libraries, seeing the world through the eyes of those who came before us.

Old Maps Online

Launched by UK charity Witness Confident, is an interactive map allowing victims of muggings and assaults in London to pinpoint where the crime took place, alerting people to risky areas and enabling possible witnesses to come forward with information.

Street Violence

CNN iReport Map

More and more news stories and footage are being sent in by citizens. The CNN iReport Map identifies where stories came from, what has occurred and enables people to share information about the events.

CNN ireport

Floating Shiny Knot

Choosing a chrome or glass finish, the viewer is treated to a wonderfully reflective shiny knot hovering through a Street View map, distorting the world around it in its mercury-like mirror.

Floating Shiny Knot

Resource Intensity of Cities

Focused solely on cities, this tool lets you hone in on any area of America’s cities to find out where over population is running rife.

Collection of the Coolest Uses of the Google Maps API Image-1


Yes, this is real. Leafly enables people to find the finest marijuana dispensaries and strains available. The tool Cheech and Chong wished they had in their heyday, it’s all for medicinal purposes, of course.


Weather Hopper

Nothing can wreck a vacation like poor weather. However, use this Google Map app and you will be prepared for all conditions as it gives a weather history for every inputted region imaginable.

Weather Hopper

KESM Brain Atlas

Completely taking anything location related out of the equation, the boffins of Texas A&M University’s Brain Networks Laboratory instead used the Maps interface to capture brain scans of mice, in incredible detail. Who’d-a-thunk-it!

KESM Brain Atlas

Startup Weekend Events

In today’s economic climate budding entrepreneurs need all the help they can get. This innovative tool identifies weekend events where businesspeople can discuss their startups and seek advice.

Startup Weekend

Show Us Your Earth Hour 2012

The World Wildlife Fund has created a Google Map use enabling eco-friendly people around the globe to share pics and vids of the action they took to celebrate Earth Hour. A green way to Google.

Earth Hour

Mapping Wikipedia

Tracemedia and the Oxford Internet Institute have teamed up to create the Mapping Wikipedia project, indicating the source of all geotagged Wikipedia articles on an interactive map.

Mapping Wikipedia

Save the Rain

There are many environmentally friendly Google Map tools, revealing the laudable ethical stance of many developers. Save the Rain helps homeowners work out how much rainwater can be reaped from their roof.


CEO – Heatmap

Another superb example of Google Maps being used to help combat climate change is the national CEO – Heatmap created by the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change, which helps people develop low carbon heat projects for their buildings.

CEO heatmap


More than 45,000 hiking, skiing, biking and snowboarding trails have already been mapped out using the innovative AllTrails tool. Join the thriving community of 200,000+ members to share your daring routes and runs.

All Trails

London Typographica

Graphic design geeks will go mad for this awesome iPhone app enabling people to make a photographic record of publicly available typography adorning the streets of the big smoke.


Moet Rose

Wanting to show your other half an epic display of your undying love, but don’t quite have the resources or effort to do it? That’s where this nifty little tool from Moet comes in handy. Using Street View, you can simply pick any location in the world and tag it up with slushy gold tags and squiggles.

Moet Rose

State of Chaos

Whether you’re an avid fan of Michael Bay, or you just hate the place you live; watch your place of residence get blown to smithereens in this thrilling, no holds barred joyride of a customized action flick.

State of Chaos

First Peoples Language Map of British Columbia

Discover and learn about the first languages ever spoken by all 203 First Nation communities of British Columbia, as well as how many people still communicate in the native tongue.

Lanugage Map of British Columbia


Minecraft continues to be an amazingly popular game. Minefold not only provides 10 hours a month free through their on demand servers, they also enable players to make an interactive Google Map of their Minecraft world.


Global Conservation Maps

This tool uses the Google Maps API to show us how much is left of our worlds resources as a way to illustrate where the world should be focusing its efforts in preserving the environment.

Global Conservation Maps

We Tell Stories: “The 21 Steps” by Charles Cumming

An example of innovative digital fiction using Google Maps, this first of six stories sees Charles Cumming rewrite John Buchan’s The 39 Steps. Check out the other great stories.

21 Steps 2

Earthquakes in the Last Week

Utilizing the data from Google’s news, blog and video search options, this tool does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. See where earthquakes have cropped up in the last week, anywhere in the world.


Map of the Dead

At last, a Google Map detailing how to survive a zombie apocalypse (it’s on its way). Indicating zombie danger zones circling your abode, this fun tool helps you keep your brains. Out of my way!

Map of The Dead


While it’s still in beta, Meograph is essentially a four-dimensional storytelling experience that integrates videos, photos and imagery with Google Earth and Street View. It will be a great tool for learning about news and historical events, and, eventually, will offer the ability for everyone to indulge in pure narcissism by creating their own Meographs. Expected to open up for registration by this summer.



It’s impressive just how customizable the Google Maps API really is, especially in relation to KESM’s brain mapping example. While the Maps API can be a great tool for creating an interactive viral marketing campaign, it’s real benefit is evident in the education sector, as well as its use for non-profit purposes; especially in environmental issues.

If you’ve come across any other ingenious uses of the Maps API on your travels then please share them in the comments section.


Nathan Francis and Oliver Archibald write for Print Express; a London based print company, specializing in business cards, letterheads and booklet printing. Outside of the workplace, both writers enjoy movies, movies and more movies.

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