A cleaner, simpler Google Maps refocuses around "actionable information"

This Google Maps refresh offers a cleaner look, new colors, and areas of interest.

Who says you can’t have form and functionality? Google Maps just received a major facelift on desktop, Android, and iOS that’s designed make it much easier to find your way about town. The new changes are rolling out now.

The first big change: Google gave Maps a cleaner, simpler look. The idea is to help you more easily observe “actionable information” like traffic conditions and transit locations. Bold outline borders for roads have been removed, for example. You’ll still see outlines for major thoroughfares, but all those side streets are just a simple white lines.

It’s a small change, but one that does make Maps look less busy and cluttered with information.

googlemapsareasofinterest

Google Maps has a cleaner look, new colors, and a new “areas of interest” feature.

Google also made some changes to the map’s typography to make it easier to read labels. Neighborhood names, for example, no longer have that faded, italicized look. Instead, they’re bolder and have a larger font size. Points of interest and business names are also shown in a larger size.

There’s also a new color scheme for maps that Google says is more balanced and will help you differentiate between constructed and natural features.

Finally, Google added a new feature called “areas of interest.” On Maps you’ll now see “hot spots” shaded in orange. These are highly trafficked areas packed with restaurants, bars, and stores. Google says it uses an algorithm to decide where to put these “areas of interest,” and in dense urban areas it also uses the “human touch” to show only the most active areas. It’s not clear if the “human touch” means crowdsourced data from Google Maps users or human curators making decisions back at Google HQ.

The impact on you at home: Overall, the changes to Google Maps look nice, but may be a dramatic shift for some. The key for Google is to always make its maps as useful as possible. It’s less about creating a record of street locations, and more about directing your towards a place for lunch, a bus stop, or the closest local park. These new changes should make it easier to read the maps and get to the information you want faster.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google Maps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?