Monday, December 11, 2023

Google Maps in Late 2023

Tim Hardwick:

When users get directions for driving, walking, or cycling, Google Maps now offers a “multidimensional experience” that can be used to preview bike lanes, sidewalks, intersections, and parking along the route, according to Google.

A time slider can be used to see air quality information and how the route looks as the weather changes throughout the day, while AI and historical driving trends simulate how many cars might be on the road at a given time.

Jack Wellborn:

Launching its own mapping service was Apple’s biggest gambit in its war with Google, way more than any lawsuit. The lawsuits were about iPhone verses Android and while many Android device makers did borrow liberally from iPhones and iOS, it turns out Apple’s fight with Google wasn’t really about one phone platform versus the other. It was about platforms versus services, and which one might commoditize the other. Up until Apple Maps, Google had the undeniable upper hand because it was a win-win for them as long as Apple had to use its services. Google would certainly win more if everyone suddenly started using Android, but they still won even if people stuck with iOS.


Google would not be paying billions of dollars annually to be the search default in Safari if Apple needed something equally as important from them. The only thing Apple truly ever needed from Google was mapping data. With its own mapping data, Apple no longer needs anything of significance, and so Google has to pay.

Elizabeth Laraki (via Hacker News):

Last week, the team dramatically changed the map’s visual design.

I don’t love it.

It feels colder, less accurate and less human.


Admittedly, I do think major roads, traffic, and trails stand out more now.

But the colors of water and parks/open spaces blend together.


So much stuff has accumulated on top of the map.

Currently there are ~11 different elements obscuring it[…]

Darren Allan (via Hacker News):

Google Maps now has gray roads like Apple, rather than white or yellow roads as before, and forests are a darker green.


These may not sound like massive changes – and to be fair, they aren’t, they’re essentially tweaks. But they have rubbed a number of users up the wrong way. As Android Authority points out, there’s some quite spicy feedback on the new Google Maps on Reddit, X (formerly Twitter) and other online forums.

John Gruber:

This is a very long way of saying that Google Maps’s app design should be like Apple Maps. In fact, Apple Maps has fewer UI elements obtruding actual map content than she’s proposing for Google Maps.

As I’ve said, I think the app design of Apple Maps is better, but I preferred the map design (colors, labels, decisions of what to shown when) of the old Google Maps. It’s frustrating that Google seems to be copying the wrong things from Apple. The new coloring perhaps looks nicer, but it’s less clear. Google Maps seems to be more aggressive about hiding street names that I want to see. I do still prefer it, especially for navigation, because of the way it draws street labels on the actual streets, instead of as horizontal bubbles that cover other parts of the map. Given that maps are now vectors, rather than pre-rasterized images, why can’t some of these details be configurable?


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Main reason I use Apple Maps is for finding where to go when walking in an area I don’t know well as it directly shows the direction I am going in. Otherwise it is pretty useless compared to most other maps. Both Apple Maps and Google maps tend to be much worse than OSM maps in 2023 when it to comes to accuracy and naming and all features (apart from commercial features, that is).

Street view remain very valuable in Google maps. Creating maps in Google maps is hard to beat anywhere else too, even with the limitations.

This update is so ugly it made me try out Organic Maps (OSM app). I still use Google for routing sometimes to take into account traffic or construction, but for basic mapping I prefer OM. I just wish there was a web version. Of course there's but it's so basic.

*This is a very long way of saying that Google Maps’s app design should be like Apple Maps"

Aren't people actually saying the opposite? They're pissed off that the new design is more like Apple's.

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