As we reported in one of our previous posts, Google has made handy changes to Google Maps. However, for the app’s latest update, it would seem that the changes are not all good. In fact, some people even say that it has made the app bad. In a blog post about the way Google has changed the design of its maps, Justin O’Beirne (former Apple employee who works on the company’s maps app) say that Google has reduced the number of cities the Google Maps show by up to 83%, while vastly increasing the number of roads.
When you look closely at the Google Maps today, you would see that the company has widely abandoned labeling cities and towns in favor of showing as many roads as it can. Now, O’Beirne believes that this has made the maps more confusing and, consequently, less useful. Upon performing his own check, he noticed that the number of cities shown on the maps has decreased and that there are more roads on the 2016 maps than those in 2010. While many roads were added on the maps, those that already exist also appear to have been upgraded. After all, such upgrades are considered highly important, making already-existing roads prominent than they were six years ago.
But interestingly, a lot of those upgraded roads seem to be the shorter segments, which are generally not as important as the already-prominent roads in 2010. Also, so many roads have been added, with so many others have been upgraded, making the 2016 map looking cluttered compared to that in 2010. While there were plenty of roads in areas in 2010, you could still at least follow each one individually, but in the 2016 map, areas have become a mess, with so many roads being so close and bleeding together, making it difficult to trace a path of a certain single road with your own eyes.
Nevertheless, O’Beirne shared his theory as to why these changes were made, saying that the Google Maps were optimized for mobile. After 2010, the usage of Google Maps on mobile has vastly exceeded desktop usage, and the town names would clutter a map on a phone screen, thus the reason why Google removed them. Unfortunately, such optimization strategy has only exacerbates the longstanding imbalance that already exists in the maps.
O’Beirne suggested that Google should add some of the cities back to its maps and make the maps more balanced.
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