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New Autocomplete features in Google Maps Platform help your users make faster decisions

July 25, 2019
Mike McCreavy

Software Engineer, Google Maps Platform

Many businesses rely on the Autocomplete feature in Google Maps Platform to help users quickly find the exact place they’re looking for. You’ve told us there’s more we can do to improve the clarity of Autocomplete results, even when there are multiple similar results. Today we’re sharing some new Autocomplete features that we’ve developed to help your users select the place they’re looking for more easily and make faster decisions—so they can more efficiently explore and get things done in the world around them.

Additional place types
To help your users better discern between similar points of interest, we've expanded Autocomplete to now return all applicable place types. Autocomplete now returns additional place types such as restaurants, health services, places of worship, financial institutions and more. You may use these additional place types to provide visual signals for the different types of places shown, such as custom icons for parks, shops, personal care and other businesses shown in searches.


More customization control 
With these additional place types, we want to help you show only the most relevant results to your users. To do this, you can use the additional place types returned in the Autocomplete response to filter and combine results by any place type, as needed for your app or site. 

For example, if you have a travel site, you can choose to return only restaurants and shopping results around your hotel listings. If you have a real estate site, you can choose to show only nearby schools, parks and grocery stores around listings.

Straight line distance
We’ve also heard that you want to help your users discern between similar points of interest in Autocomplete, so they can quickly and confidently choose the right place. For example, if your user is visiting downtown San Francisco and wants to find a coffee shop, there could be five different cafes with the same name within their search area. Unless they already know which location they prefer, they’d likely have difficulty choosing a cafe based only on the name and address.  

To enable you to provide a better user experience, we’ve developed another new Autocomplete field that provides the straight-line distance between points of interest from a location selected by your user. Providing the straight-line distance helps your users better differentiate between places with the same name, to quickly find the exact place they are looking for. So if your user types ‘Joe’s Coffee Shop’ on your site and they see multiple ‘Joe’s Coffee Shop’ cafes listed, you can now show them the distance of how far each cafe is from their current location. This will enable them to more easily discern the difference between each cafe result, and choose the right one for them.  

This straight-line distance field is currently available in the Places API as a web service, and we’re working on adding it to our Places SDKs for Android, iOS and Javascript.

We built these features to benefit your users, and to give you more tools to build enriched experiences across many industries, including travel, real estate, ridesharing, local deliveries and more. Please give them a try and report any issues or feedback you have in our Issue Tracker, or show us what you’re working on by tweeting @GMapsPlatform. We’re here to help you do amazing things with Google Maps Platform, and we can’t wait to see what you build with these new features.

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