How can you find the best alternative to the Google Places API?

If your app has a location search tool, it is likely that you’ll need to show points of interest to users on a map. Whether it’s properties, hotels or other locations, displaying points of interest in your application can improve the user experience and help property buyers make informed decisions.

This example from Zoopla, a UK property search website, layers local schools within a travel time catchment area onto a map:

Zoopla-points-of-interest

But where do you find this kind of information and how reliable is it? To help you conduct your research, let’s take a look at some alternative points of interest data sources.

Contents

    1. Foursquare Places API

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    The Foursquare Places API provides location information about venues, users, photos and check-ins. JSON is the preferred response format

    You can use this API to help users find local places through things like recommendations, reviews, photos and reviews. 

    We use Foursquare's API on our TravelTime app. This app filters which points of interest fall within a travel time area, for example 'which hotels are within 30 minutes from the airport?'.  

    What you get:

    • 105 million points of interest globally, 190 countries
    • Attributes include location address, lat/long, opening hours, price and user-generated tips/recommendations
    • Photos, tips, and reviews written by Foursquare users can be incorporated into an app
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    2. Global Places Data – Factual

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    Factual's Global Places Data is a points of interest database from Factual that allows users to view businesses, landmarks, and other points of interest on a map.

    What you get:

    • 64 million points of interest globally
    • Available in 52 countries and in 29 languages
    • Attributes include name, contact information and latitude/longitude
    • Restaurant and hotel data contains bespoke attributes, including prices, opening times and amenities

    3. Gecode Earth

    Geocode Earth offers location data, geocoding and content localisation features. You can use these to Add geographic search features to your website or app. Since its service uses open data, you can store search results within your own database.

    What you get:  

    • Autocomplete, allowing you to handle geocoding requests from end-users
    • Turn lat/long coordinates into addresses, cities, countries or points of interest
    • Can show results in your users’ language
    • Returns requests in GeoJSON

    4. ArcGIS

    If you’re an ArcGIS user, you can use its geocoding service to search for a location and return complete addresses. You can also use it to search for name of a business within a specific distance from a location or find places by category name.

    Alternatively, you can use the Place search within ArcGIS to search for geographic locations and businesses or to display places on a map.

    What you get:

    • Search for points of interest near a location, counties in a state or land features like the Grand Canyon
    • Can use the autosuggest feature to build an application that autocompletes addresses as you type

    At TravelTime, we offer an API integration with ArcGIS, which allows you to create and analyse catchment areas based on travel time. Learn more here.

    5. Sygic Places API

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    Targeted at travel businesses, the Sygic Places API offers point of interest data for locations worldwide. Its Travel SDK provides access to the Sygic Places database, allowing you to add trip planning functionality to your app.

    What you get:

    • Travel data about 24 million points of interest globally
    • Data for popular points of interest include photos, 360° videos and contact information
    • Data is available in 18 languages
    • Places consist of latitude, longitude and full geometry
    • Data includes local names, category, tags, descriptions of places, contact information, admission fees and opening hours

    6. HERE Geocoding and Search API

    The HERE Geocoding and Search API allows you to build applications where users can search for addresses and points of interest from the HERE map. 

    What you get:

    • Provide suggestions automatically as the user types
    • Reverse geocoding to find an address using map coordinates or a selected spot on a map
    • Search with filters including parameters like category. Results are returned by distance

    7. Planet OSM – OpenStreetMap

    OpenStreetMap offers a free, open-source map of the world with which you can access information about businesses, transport and points of interest. Planet OSM is a feature of OpenStreetMap that lets you extract millions of points of interest for free.

    What you get:

    • Extract points of interest into a database or as a file
    • Download extracts of data that covers individual continents, countries, and metropolitan areas

    8. LocationIQ

    You can use LocationIQ’s geocoding API to return specific points of interest, such as ATMs and restaurants.

    What you get:

    • Reverse geocoding – convert coodinates to street addresses
    • Provide suggestions for users using the autocomplete functionality
    • Return points of interest such as airports, hospitals or cafes

    9. MapKit JS – Apple

    With Apple’s MapKit JS, you can embed interactive Apple maps on your website as well as annotate points of interest or user destinations.

    What you get:

    • MapKit offers access to data including the name of the place, location, category, phone number and website

    10. Tripadvisor’s Content API

    With the Tripadvisor Content API you can access information about travel destinations to use on your website or application. Data is returned in JSON format 

    What you get:

    • Data includes information relating to travel accommodations, restaurants, transport and hotels
    • Free access to the API (as long as you are approved for an API key)

    11. SafeGraph Places Data

    SafeGraph’s Places offers a dataset of points of interest worldwide. The data is available through its Places API.

    What you get:

    • Location data including lat/long coordinates, address, postcode and city
    • Business-specific information including opening hours

    12. OsmAnd

    OsmAnd offers offline maps for any region globally. You can use this to display points of interest around you, as well as display where you are on a map. It’s an open-source software that uses OpenStreetMap data.

    What you get:

    • Display points such as Favorites (points marked by the user)
    • Can search for places by address, lat/long coordinates or category (e.g. restaurant or hotel)
    • Provides turn-by-turn navigation, available for bicycle and pedestrian routes

    13. Loqate

    Using Loqate’s location software, you can allow your users to find the nearest retail store, hotel, restaurant or other venue near them.

    What you get:

    • Can narrow results by category so customers can search for venues with specific facilities

    14. Amazon Location Service

    The Amazon Location Service allows you to integrate geospatial data into your applications from a variety of data providers.

    What you get:

    • Can add location functionality like maps, points of interest, geocoding and geofencing to your app with additional user privacy
    • Can visualise location data on a map, provide route recommendations or convert addresses into coordinates and vice versa

    15. Yelp

    Through the Yelp Fusion API, you can access location information about businesses to integrate into your applications.

    What you get:

    • Access to local content and user reviews for businesses across 32 countries
    • Return information about events, including lat/long coordinates and events within a specified timeframe
    • Return information about businesses with reviews, including location and category

    16. Amadeus Points of Interest API

    For travel companies, the Amadeus Points of Interest API lets users search for the best attractions in a city or area.

    What you get:

    • The API returns information about attractions, including the name, coordinates, and category (sights, beach/park, historical, nightlife, restaurant or shopping).
    • Attractions also include a score which determines their popularity

    17. TomTom’s Search API

    This RESTful API enables search for addresses and points of interest.

    What you get:

    • The API’s autocomplete feature allows for predictive typing and is supported in 49 languages
    • Ability to search for points of interest across 595 categories worldwide
    • Can return information including opening hours, ratings, price and reviews

    18. TravelTime API

    While the TravelTime API doesn’t specifically offer POI data, it when integrated into your application, it allows users to search for points of interest within a specified time limit by any transport mode. You can combine this with other data sources to display accurate results about which locations and points of interest can be reached in a specified time limit.

    What you get:

    • Allow users to search for POIs within a time limit (up to 4 hours) for any transport mode
    • Additional free unlimited access to geocoding and map tiles in all paid plans
    • Integrations available for ArcGIS and QGIS=

    What is the best alternative to the Google Places API?

    Ultimately, the best alternative to the Google Places API comes down to the specific needs of your application.

    If your application is consumer-facing, you’ll want to consider the user experience. One way to improve UX is by combining POI and travel time data to allow your users to search for points of interest within their desired travel time.

    With the TravelTime API, you can let users search for locations by travel time for any transport mode. To learn more about what you can do with the TravelTime API, check out our documentation or sign up for a free API key.

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