Google Makes Biggest Design Changes to Maps Yet

    October 23, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google is rolling out the biggest set of changes it has ever made to Google Maps since it launched nearly five years ago. The changes come in a variety of manners, like refinements to color, density, typography, and road-styling. These changes are visible in the "map" and "hybrid" views around the world.

"For example, in map view, local and arterial roads have been narrowed at medium zooms to improve legibility, and the overall colours have been optimized to be easier on the eye and conflict less with other things (such as traffic, transit lines and search results) that we overlay onto the map," explains Jonah Jones of the Google Maps User Experience Design team. "Hybrid roads have gained a crisp outline to make them easier to follow, and the overall look is now closer to an augmented satellite view instead of a simple overlay."

Google provides a few visuals as examples of where changes are noticeable. Here are some parts of London in different views.

London - New Google Maps

London - New Google Maps

In the first one, you can see an improvement in readability and density of the roads in the hybrid view. Smaller roads are easier to find. In the second one, you can see finer road widths, cleaner rail lines, and a lighter color scheme. Google shows a few more examples here.

On another Google Maps related note, you may have seen that Google officially announced its Street View Trike last week, even though it’s been around for quite some time. If you go to Google Maps now, there is a link to a "Street View Trike Special Collections Poll," which is now open.

"Tell us where to ride!" Google says. "The Street View trike has already collected some imagery, but now we’re accepting your suggestions for where to send it next in the United States. Send us your most inspired suggestions for the places you really want to see featured in Street View."

There are lots of improvements being made to Google Maps. Earlier this month, Google launched a new dataset for it, which opened up a lot more scenery.