Google Maps gets new street-level details, better colors

This is how to disable location tracking in Google Maps.
Image: Cody DeBos / The Burn-In

Google’s Maps navigation app is unrivaled in terms of detail. Not only does it provide drivers with turn-by-turn directions, it also gives pedestrians and cyclists unique ways to interact with areas they aren’t familiar with.

Now, Google is rolling out some new features for Maps that will make it even more user-friendly and give it a much sharper look in the process. Users can expect to find better street-level details that display things like crosswalk locations, sidewalks, and roads that are appropriately scaled to size. Meanwhile, Maps is getting a color upgrade that makes it easier to identify natural features.

Getting Personal

The world of transportation has changed dramatically in the past decade. What once revolved around cars and taxis now utilizes things like e-scooters and Ubers. Plenty of people are also walking to their destinations to try and save money and be Earth-conscious. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this shift even further.

Google’s recent additions to Maps will help its navigation app stay up-to-date with current transportation trends.

The changes will help people better navigate their cities whether they are on foot or taking an alternative mode of transport. For now, the upgrade only supports a few cities. Users in New York, San Francisco, and London can utilize the enhanced street-level information. Google notes that it will roll out the upgraded maps to more cities in the future, including others outside the U.S.

One of the biggest changes is how roads are displayed. The Maps app now shows the width of each road and certain intersections at a more accurate scale. It also displays the shape of the intersection rather than simply showing two roads coming together. This will make it easier for people to understand where they are and navigate on foot.

Unfortunately, the added features won’t help with things like identifying curb cuts for those who are handicapped. It does, however, show the location of crosswalks, which should essentially do the same thing.

Given that Google Maps is used by more than a billion people worldwide, the update won’t appear for everyone at the same time. Users will gradually gain access to the enhanced street-level features in the coming months.

Looking Good

On a larger scale, Google is also rolling out an upgrade to how it displays natural features in Maps. It used a new color-mapping technique to find these landmarks from its satellite imagery.

Google based the change on an HSV color model to help better delineate certain types of terrain. For instance, an area of dense forest appears dark green. A grove of smaller shrubs is lighter green. The changes will cover all 220 countries and territories supported by Google Maps and include more than 100 million square kilometers of land.

Image: Google

The update is yet another reason for people to keep using Google Maps. It is currently leading the way as the go-to navigation app. However, it is facing a stiff challenge from Apple Maps. If Google can continue adding innovative features like the ones noted here there is no reason it can’t stay on top.


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