Google has updated its Maps application with visual changes and additions designed to provide users with what it says is cleaner and more actionable information.
The company is rolling out the changes to Maps users on the desktop, Android and iOS devices, and they will become apparent to users around the world soon.
According to Zhou Bailiang, UX designer with Google Maps and Mark Li, a software engineer at the company, the updates are designed to highlight key information on a map without crowding it with too much data. As one example, Google has removed road outlines in maps so users have an easier time seeing traffic- and transit-related information, the two engineers wrote on the Google Maps blog.
Other changes include new typography for street names, transit stations and points of interest, and the use of certain colors to highlight specific areas. For example, areas in a location that Google determines will be of special interest to a user are now shaded in orange, and users can zoom in on such areas to get more details on it.
"Whether you're looking for a hotel in a hot spot or just trying to determine which way to go after exiting the subway in a new place, "areas of interest" will help you find what you're looking for with just a couple swipes and a zoom," Bailiang and Li wrote.
Google will use a special algorithmic process to determine areas of interest, which the company defines as places with the highest concentration of shops, bars and restaurants in a particular geography. In highly dense areas, the company will use, what the two Google engineers described as a "human touch" to ensure that the most active areas in a particular location are shown.
Other features, such as freeways, highways, hospitals and schools, will each have their own color code to help users distinguish them quickly on a Map. The color scheme will also let users easily differentiate between man-made and natural features. The changes will help Maps users "navigate the world with fewer distractions," the Google engineers said.
The latest updates build on a string of changes that Google has made to Maps recently in a bid to make it more user-friendly. Just last week, for instance, Google introduced new options for users to edit existing information in Maps or to add new landmark and business information to it. The company also introduced a new way for users to vet and approve edits and information added to Maps by other users. The company described the new options as giving the Maps community a way to ensure that business and landmark information is as updated and complete as possible.
Last month, the company introduced a new multi-stop directions capability for Google Maps users in Android. The feature is designed to let users enter a destination and add stops along the way by specifying the types of places they would like to go to such as specific restaurants or gas stations.
The satellite images available on Google Maps have also recently been refreshed with new images from the Landsat 8 satellite and the use of new processing techniques for optimizing image quality.