The Google Maps APIs have been making maps universally accessible to developers and users for over 10 years. With over 50 supported languages, almost everyone can view the map in their own language.


But sometimes an address translated to your language isn’t the most useful result. Whether your map says London, Londres, Лондон or 伦敦, only the first of these will match local street signs or help you communicate the address to locals.


If you view geocoded addresses in locations with different local languages, today we launched a change that will make life easier for you. Street-level addresses returned by the Google Maps Geocoding API now favor the local language, while keeping the address understandable as much as possible for both a user who only reads the requested language as well as locals.


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If the local language and user language both use the same alphabet, the Geocoding API will now return the local names for the streets and localities. For example, searching for an address in Brazil with user language set to English now returns “Avenida Paulista” rather than “Paulista Avenue”.


If the local language and user language use different alphabets, the Geocoding API will return the local name, transliterated into the Latin alphabet. In some cases, an English translation may be returned, for example if no transliteration is available. For example, searching for El Tahrir Square with user language set to Japanese now returns “El-Tahrir Square, Ismailia, Qasr an Nile, Cairo Governorate, エジプト” rather than “エジプト カイロ県 Qasr an Nile, タハリール広場” (the old result) or “ميدان التحرير، قصر النيل، محافظة القاهرة‬، مصر” (the local name). The Latin result is more likely to be readable by both a Japanese traveler and an Egyptian local, whereas the Japanese traveler is unlikely to be able to read the Arabic address, and Egyptian locals are unlikely to be able to read the Japanese characters.


Queries where the requested language is the same as the local language are unaffected. Note that the requested language can be specified either using the language= parameter, or the browser’s Accept-Language header. If neither of these is provided, the native language of the Google domain is used as a default (for example, English for maps.googleapis.com).


This change also applies to addresses returned by the Directions API and Distance Matrix API, as well as services in the Google Maps JavaScript API v3. The Places API is not included at this time.


To learn more about localization in the Google Maps APIs, see the Google Maps JavaScript API v3 documentation. To learn more about the Geocoding API, see the Geocoding API documentation.

Posted by Elena Kelareva, Product Manager, Google Maps APIs