Google has just announced the release of new, upgraded version of static map. Functionality has been extended to allow encoding of polylines, drawing filled polygons, specifying marker locations as address as well as latitude and longitude coordinates, and referencing colours in 24-bit as well as 32-bit formats. V1 has been deprecated so, any applications using the original version will need to be upgraded to the latest version. Full documentation is availabe from Google site.
Static option of Google Map is very handy for those situations where bandwidth is an issue (eg. for users out in the bush on dial-up Internet connection or for mobile phone applications) or where there is no need for interactivity with the map. Although static map is originally intended as just an image service, some interactivity can be scripted to mimic basic functionality of Google Map proper.
Via: Google Geo Developers Blog: Static Maps API v2: Encoded Paths, Polygons & Geocoding