Hovee merges carpooling and social networking using Google Maps APIs

Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Paul Kogan, CEO of Hovee. Read how Hovee is using Google Maps APIs to transform commuting by matching drivers with one another.

At Hovee, we are reinventing the carpool by combining it with the power of social networking. We’ve built our company around the concept of “social commuting” — the idea that more people will carpool if they can choose who shares their drives based on routes and personal interests.

Our platform matches commuters with each other to find the most efficient carpools for everyone. We use Google Maps APIs to calculate and plot routes and drop-off points, displaying them in our web and iOS apps. Since about 70 percent of our user base is iPhone users, we decided to focus on delivering the iOS app first. We plan to add the Hovee Android app this summer.

After users download the app, they create personal profiles which we use to match people based on compatibility, for example, whether they prefer to listen to the radio or chat during their commute. Users enter their home and work locations, and we use the Geocoding API to validate addresses. The Geocoding API has been hugely effective and is more accurate than our previous mapping service, Apple Maps. We switched to Google Maps for more accurate geo-coordinates and the ease of getting waypoints and plotting polylines.

Once profiles are complete, we generate a RideMatch list for each user. It shows their optimum commuting partners, sorted by an algorithmic score which combines route calculations, schedule and social components. To enable this feature, two Google Maps APIs come into play: the Directions API and the Distance Matrix API. The Directions API identifies the routes while the Distance Matrix API estimates driving time and distance. We then plot pickup and drop-off points using the Javascript API for the web client, and the Google Maps SDK for iOS for the iOS app.
Hovee_RideMatch.png Hovee_iOS_Map.png

When commuters browse the profiles of possible ride partners, we obscure their home and work addresses for privacy reasons.

We now have several hundred people from a dozen companies in the San Francisco Bay Area participating in our pilot program. We’re currently working to bring Hovee to all Bay Area commuters. This summer we plan to expand the service to the Washington D.C metro area.

Setting up carpools can be a complex interaction. But with the power of the Google Maps APIs, our users can now do this in a way that’s responsive, intuitive and social.