How Does Google Maps Work? Learn How Satellites and Cartography Merge

Page content

How Google maps work:

After the user opens the software application online, a search box appears. In this search box the user types the desired location which is to be found. Once the location is put in this box Google sends it to its various servers all across the globe and they search for the closest possible match in a Tele Atlas. From this atlas the “Google Maps” application will render the image on to the computer or the mobile of the user. The user may wish to drag and scroll the map to see other nearby areas, so accordingly the parts of the map keep getting downloaded and inserted from the server on to the page. Here the page does not get reloaded; instead the results get downloaded in the background and are placed in the map on the user’s screen.

The application also has an option wherein the users can find the route or directions from one place to the other. For this both the places have to be entered in the search and Google Maps will find the shortest route. It has millions of route combinations stored on its server and from there it displays the relevant route in the form of a connecting line between the two locations. It also shows the other potential locations that match with the user’s entered keywords.

Where does Google Maps get all these routes from?

All the maps are provided to Google by a private company called Tele Atlas. They are partners with Google and are world leaders in location and navigation services. These maps have a high accuracy rate and have accurate routes of even highly rural areas too. The other source of information is Google’s own service such as Google Earth which provides detailed satellite imagery. Data from both are compared and collaborated to give the user accurate maps. The satellite imagery also helps in updating newly developed areas. As far as showing various businesses on these maps are concerned, they are taken from yellow pages. That is how one often ends up seeing so many shops, showrooms, offices etc. The users can also add their own places such as local businesses and other areas of interest on these maps.

Other applications of Google Maps


  • Google Maps API
  • Google Maps for Mobile

Google Maps API: This is a free service which enables the website developer to integrate Google Maps on to their web site. A website can use it to show the users the location of its offices on its website.

Google Maps for Mobile: This is the same free service that runs on Java based mobile phones. This enables people to use their mobile phones in cars to get the desired locations hence completing the journey without any wrong turns or having to ask anyone for directions.