Google Maps got a design overhaul on Monday that includes subtle visual changes, a new color scheme, and a new "areas of interest" to highlight the most exciting parts of the city. The updates could make it much easier for business travelers to fill their downtime during a business trip.
The changes, announced in a blog post, are coming to Google Maps on Android, iOS, and desktop. The goal around the new design elements is to make Google Maps easier to navigate and to make helpful information more clear.
For starters, the new design of the maps themselves focuses on simplicity and a clean look. Google said that, to accomplish this, it "removed elements that aren't absolutely required." For example, it removed the outline around individual roads to make traffic and transit information easier to see at a glance.
Another big design change came in the form of new typography. Elements such as street names, points of interest, and transit stations are getting updated typefaces so that users can more easily tell them apart from other parts of the map in order to, again, increase usability.
The new, subtle color scheme of Google Maps is supposed to perform a similar service as the updated typography in making it easier for a user to find what he or she is looking for on a map. Hospitals, schools, and highways are now easier to spot, and certain shades can point out the difference between features that are naturally occurring or man-made.
Speaking of new color schemes, a certain shade of orange designates "areas of interest." In its blog post, Google describes these areas as: "places where there's a lot of activities and things to do." If a user finds the an area of interest, he or she can zoom in to see what the area offers, including additional information on the venues or businesses there.
Google decides what area is worthy of being called an area of interest with an algorithm design to "highlight the areas with the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops." However, it did note that in busy cities like New York City, they rely on additional human input as well.
For business travelers, this could potentially be a valuable tool in determining where to spend any extra time they have in between conferences or before catching a cab to the airport. Finding an interesting cultural center or cool local shops could be much more fun than twiddling one's thumbs at a coffee shop on the corner.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google Maps is getting an updated map design that focuses on simplicity to make it easier to navigate using the app.
- A new color scheme and typography is supposed to make it easier for users to separate major points of interest from standard street elements.
- "Areas of interest" show areas in a city with a high concentration of things to do like restaurants and local shops, and could be a great feature for business travelers.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.