Cleaner, Updated Google Maps Wants to Help You Find Something to Do

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Google Maps is rolling out an update that boasts a cleaner look, "areas of interest," and a new color scheme that aims to help folks navigate the world with fewer distractions.

"As part of this update, we've removed elements that aren't absolutely required (like road outlines)," UX designer Zhou Bailiang and software engineer Mark Li wrote in a blog post. "The result is a cleaner look that makes it easier to see helpful and actionable information like traffic and transit."

Google also improved the typography of street names, points of interest, and transit stations to make them more distinguishable from other things on the map. "The cleaner canvas also lets us show local information in entirely new ways," Bailiang and Li said.

Against a paler background, users will notice orange-shaded "areas of interest"—regions highlighted for their abundance of activities. Zoom in for details about each venue; tap once for supplementary information.

"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," the blog said.

Google uses an algorithm to determine which spots feature the highest concentration of restaurants, bars, and shops. High-density areas like New York City, meanwhile, require an additional "human touch" to ensure the map is showing the most active areas. Plus, a new subtle color scheme is meant to help users discern between manmade and natural features, and quickly identify places like hospitals (light pink), schools (light brown), or highways (yellow).

"Google Maps already provides you everything you need to get around the world in one place—including business information, ratings and reviews, and more than 100 million distinct places," Google said. "And with these updates, it's now even easier to navigate to where you want to go."

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