Camera and View

The Google Maps SDK for iOS allows you to change the user's viewpoint of the map by modifying the map's camera.


Maps added with the Google Maps SDK for iOS can be tilted and rotated with easy gestures, giving users the ability to adjust the map with an orientation that makes sense for them. At any zoom level, you can pan the map, or change its perspective with very little latency. The bearing, tilt, location and zoom level of the map can be controlled programmatically via the GMSCameraPosition object.

Changes to the camera will not make any changes to markers, polylines, or other graphics you've added, although you may want to change your additions to fit better with the new view.

The rest of this topic describes how to use the camera to make changes that impact the zoom level, viewport or perspective of the map.

The map's view

Like Google Maps on the web, the Google Maps SDK for iOS represents the world's surface (a sphere) on your device's screen (a flat plane) using the Mercator projection. In the east and west direction, the map is repeated infinitely as the world seamlessly wraps around on itself. In the north and south direction the map is limited to approximately 85 degrees north and 85 degrees south.

Camera position

The map view is modeled as a camera looking down on a flat plane. The position of the camera (and hence the rendering of the map) is specified by the following properties: latitude/longitude location, zoom, bearing and viewing angle.

The initial camera position is set when you create the GMSMapView object via its convenience constructor.


GMSCameraPosition *camera = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithLatitude:-33.8683
mapView_ = [GMSMapView mapWithFrame:self.view.bounds camera:camera];


let camera = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithLatitude(-33.8683,
    longitude: 151.2086, zoom: 16)
let mapView = GMSMapView.mapWithFrame(self.view.bounds, camera: camera)

You may also create the GMSMapView with the default UIView init method. In this case, the camera position will start at a default location, and can be explicitly modified after creation.


mapView_ = [[GMSMapView alloc] initWithFrame:self.view.bounds];


let mapView = GMSMapView(frame: self.view.bounds)

Moving the camera

When you've created the GMSMapView, and it has either a configured or default camera, you can change it in one of several ways. When you change the camera, you have the option of animating the resulting camera movement. The animation interpolates between the current camera attributes and the new camera attributes. You can also control the duration of the animation using Core Animation.

You can modify the GMSCameraPosition object, and set it on the GMSMapView. This will snap the camera to the new location with no animation. The GMSCameraPosition may be created to configure either latitude, longitude and zoom, or to configure those properties plus bearing and viewing angle.


GMSCameraPosition *sydney = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithLatitude:-33.8683
[mapView_ setCamera:sydney];


let sydney = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithLatitude(-33.8683,
    longitude: 151.2086, zoom: 6)
mapView.camera = sydney

GMSCameraPosition may also be created with explicit bearing and viewing angle properties.


GMSCameraPosition *fancy = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithLatitude:-33.8683
[mapView_ setCamera:fancy];


let fancy = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithLatitude(-33,
    longitude: 151, zoom: 6, bearing: 30, viewingAngle: 45)
mapView.camera = fancy

If you prefer to animate the transition, you can call one of several methods that allow you to animate the camera moving to a new location. You can control the duration of the animation with Core Animation.


[mapView_ animateToViewingAngle:45];



Finally, the GMSCameraUpdate object allows you to specify a new view for the camera, and choose whether to snap-to or animate-to that view. You can update the view by passing a new GMSCameraUpdate object to GMSMapView's moveCamera method. This can be useful when you want to modify the camera to fit predefined bounds.


GMSCameraUpdate *update = [GMSCameraUpdate fitBounds:bounds
[mapView_ moveCamera:update];


let update = GMSCameraUpdate.fitBounds(bounds, withPadding: 50.0)

The sections below describe each camera property, and how to modify the values after the map has been created.


The location determines the center of the map. Locations are specified by latitude and longitude, and represented programmatically by a CLLocationCoordinate2D, created with CLLocationCoordiante2DMake.

The latitude can be between -85 and 85 degrees, inclusive. Values above or below this range will be clamped to the nearest value within this range. For example, specifying a latitude of 100 will set the value to 85. Longitude ranges between -180 and 180 degrees, inclusive. Values above or below this range will be wrapped such that they fall within the range [-180, 180). For example, 480, 840 and 1200 will all be wrapped to 120 degrees.

Users are able to change the location by panning the map. You can set the location programmatically with animateToLocation: on GMSMapView.


[mapView_ animateToLocation:CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(-33.868, 151.208)];


mapView.animateToLocation(CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(-33.868, 151.208))

Alternately, you can set the camera directly, without animating the change.


CLLocationCoordinate2D target =
    CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(-33.868, 151.208);
mapView_.camera = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithTarget:target zoom:6];


let target = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(-33.868, 151.208)
mapView.camera = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithTarget(target, zoom:6)


The zoom level of the camera determines the scale of the map. At larger zoom levels more detail can be seen on the screen, while at smaller zoom levels more of the world can be seen on the screen. At zoom level 0, the scale of the map is such that the entire world has a width of approximately 256 points.

Increasing the zoom level by 1 doubles the width of the world on the screen. Hence at zoom level N, the width of the world is approximately 256 * 2N, i.e., at zoom level 2, the whole world is approximately 1024 points wide. Note that the zoom level need not be an integer. The range of zoom levels permitted by the map depends on a number of factors including location, map type and screen size.

Users are able to change the zoom level by using a two-finger pinch. You can set the zoom programmatically with animateToZoom: on GMSMapView.


[mapView_ animateToZoom:12];



Set a minimum or maximum zoom

You can restrict the range of zoom available to the map by setting a min and max zoom level. The below code restricts the zoom level between 10 and 15.


GMSCameraPosition *camera = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithLatitude:41.887
GMSMapView *mapView = [GMSMapView mapWithFrame:CGRectZero
[mapView setMinZoom:10 maxZoom:15];


let camera = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithLatitude(41.887, longitude: -87.622, zoom: 12)
let mapView = GMSMapView.mapWithFrame(CGRectZero, camera:camera)
mapView.setMinZoom(10, maxZoom: 15)

The zoom range must be set using the setMinZoom:maxZoom: method, however the values can be read individually using the minZoom and maxZoom properties. This is helpful when restricting only one of the values. The below code changes only the minimum zoom level.


[mapView setMinZoom:12 maxZoom:mapView.maxZoom];


mapView.setMinZoom(12, maxZoom: mapView.maxZoom)

If, after updating the min and max zoom, the camera's zoom level is set to a value outside of the new range, the current zoom will automatically update to display the nearest valid value. For example, in the code below, the original zoom is defined as 4. When the zoom range is later set to 10-15, the current zoom is updated to 10.


// Sets the zoom level to 4.
GMSCameraPosition *camera = [GMSCameraPosition cameraWithLatitude:41.887
GMSMapView *mapView = [GMSMapView mapWithFrame:CGRectZero
// The current zoom, 4, is outside of the range. The zoom will change to 10.
[mapView setMinZoom:10 maxZoom:15];


// Sets the zoom level to 4.
let camera = GMSCameraPosition.cameraWithLatitude(41.887,
    longitude: -87.622, zoom: 4)
let mapView = GMSMapView.mapWithFrame(CGRectZero, camera: camera)
// The current zoom, 4, is outside of the range. The zoom will change to 10.
mapView.setMinZoom(10, maxZoom: 15)

By default, minZoom and maxZoom are set to the values defined by the global constants kGMSMinZoomLevel and kGMSMaxZoomLevel.

Bearing (orientation)

The bearing is the direction in which a vertical line on the map points, measured in degrees clockwise from north. Someone driving a car often turns a road map to align it with their direction of travel, while hikers using a map and compass usually orient the map so that a vertical line is pointing north. The Google Maps SDK for iOS lets you change a map's alignment or bearing. For example, a bearing of 90 degrees results in a map where the upwards direction points due east.

Users are able to change the bearing by using a two-finger gesture to rotate the orientation of the map. You can set the bearing programmatically with animateToBearing: on GMSMapView.


[mapView_ animateToBearing:0];



Viewing Angle

The viewing angle is the camera's position on an arc between directly over the map's center position and the surface of the Earth, measured in degrees from the nadir (the direction pointing directly below the camera). When you change the viewing angle, the map appears in perspective, with features between the camera and the map position appearing proportionally larger, and features beyond the map position appear proportionally smaller, yielding a three-dimensional effect.

The viewing angle can range between 0 (pointing straight down at the map), and up to either 30 or 45 degrees, depending upon the zoom level.

Users are able to change the viewing angle by using a two-finger swipe. You can set the viewing angle programmatically with animateToViewingAngle: on GMSMapView.


[mapView_ animateToViewingAngle:45];



Build a GMSCameraPosition

It's sometimes useful to move the camera such that an entire area of interest is visible at the greatest possible zoom level. For example, if you're displaying all of the gas stations within five miles of the user's current position, you may want to move the camera such that they are all visible on the screen.

To do this, first calculate the GMSCoordinateBounds that you want to be visible on the screen. Then use the cameraForBounds:insets: method on your GMSMapView to return a new GMSCameraPosition. This ensures that the given GMSCoordinateBounds fits entirely within the current map's size. Note that the tilt and bearing of the map will both be set to 0.

The below example demonstrates how to change the camera such that both the cites of Vancouver and Calgary appear in the same view.


CLLocationCoordinate2D vancouver = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(49.26, -123.11);
CLLocationCoordinate2D calgary = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(51.05, -114.05);
GMSCoordinateBounds *bounds =
    [[GMSCoordinateBounds alloc] initWithCoordinate:vancouver coordinate:calgary];
GMSCameraPosition *camera = [mapView_ cameraForBounds:bounds insets:UIEdgeInsetsZero];
mapView_.camera = camera;


let vancouver = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(49.26, -123.11)
let calgary = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(51.05, -114.05)
let bounds = GMSCoordinateBounds(coordinate: vancouver, coordinate: calgary)
let camera = mapView.cameraForBounds(bounds, insets:UIEdgeInsetsZero)
mapView.camera = camera;

Updating the Camera View

Instead of directly modifying the camera view with various methods of GMSMapView, you can create an operation to update the map in a predefined way, called a GMSCameraUpdate, and apply it to the map with GMSMapView's moveCamera: method. You can also animate the update to the camera with the animateWithCameraUpdate: method.

GMSCameraUpdate should only be constructed using one of its factory methods.

zoomIn: and zoomOut:
Change the current zoom level by 1.0, while keeping all other properties the same.
Changes the zoom level to the given value, while keeping all other properties the same.
Increases (or decreases, if the value is negative) the zoom level by the given value.
Increases (or decreases, if the value is negative) the zoom level by the given value, while retaining the specified point's position on the screen.
Changes the camera's latitude and longitude, while preserving all other properties.
Changes the camera's latitude, longitude and zoom, while preserving all other properties.
Lets you specify a new GMSCameraPosition.
Change the camera's latitude and longitude such that the map moves by the specified number of points. A positive x value causes the camera to move to the right, so that the map appears to have moved to the left. A positive y value causes the camera to move down, so that the map appears to have moved up. The scrolling is relative to the camera's current orientation. For example, if the camera has a bearing of 90 degrees, then east is "up".
Transforms the camera such that the specified bounds are centered on screen at the greatest possible zoom level. Applies a default padding to the bounds of 64 points.
Transforms the camera such that the specified bounds are centered on screen at the greatest possible zoom level. Allows you to specify custom padding, in points, for the bounding box. Use this method when you'd like to have the same amount of padding on all sides.
Transforms the camera such that the specified bounds are centered on screen at the greatest possible zoom level. Allows you to specify custom padding, as UIEdgeInsets, for the bounding box. Use this method when you want to set the padding on each edge independently.

Using GMSCameraUpdate

To update the camera view with a GMSCameraUpdate object:

  1. Create an initial GMSMapView object.
  2. Create a GMSCameraUpdate object with one of the supplied factory methods, described above.
  3. Apply the camera update to the GMSMapView with either the moveCamera: or animateWithCameraUpdate: methods.

The following code snippets illustrate some of the common ways to move the camera with GMSCameraUpdate.


// Zoom in one zoom level
GMSCameraUpdate *zoomCamera = [GMSCameraUpdate zoomIn];
[mapView_ animateWithCameraUpdate:zoomCamera];

// Center the camera on Vancouver, Canada
CLLocationCoordinate2D vancouver = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(49.26,-123.11);
GMSCameraUpdate *vancouverCam = [GMSCameraUpdate setTarget:vancouver];
[mapView_ animateWithCameraUpdate:vancouverCam];

// Move the camera 100 points down, and 200 points to the right.
GMSCameraUpdate *downwards = [GMSCameraUpdate scrollByX:100 y:200];
[mapView_ animateWithCameraUpdate:downwards];


// Zoom in one zoom level
let zoomCamera = GMSCameraUpdate.zoomIn()

// Center the camera on Vancouver, Canada
let vancouver = CLLocationCoordinate2DMake(49.26,-123.11)
let vancouverCam = GMSCameraUpdate.setTarget(vancouver)

// Move the camera 100 points down, and 200 points to the right.
let downwards = GMSCameraUpdate.scrollByX(100, y: 200)

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Google Maps SDK for iOS
Google Maps SDK for iOS
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