UPDATED 23:46 EDT / AUGUST 18 2020

APPS

Google Maps upgrade makes it easier to identify local landscapes

Google Maps, the world’s most popular navigational service, is being upgraded to make it easier for users to identify local landscapes.

Starting this week, Google Maps will switch to a default view that includes visual improvements that bring “even more details and granularity to the maps, making it easier to understand what an area looks like whether you’re exploring virtually or planning a visit,” Google said.

The upgraded maps tap into Google’s high-definition satellite imagery with a new color-mapping technique that creates maps that define natural features. The base-level Google Maps view will now show things such as snow-capped mountains, areas of vegetation and even sandy beaches. “Exploring a place gives you a look at its natural features — so you can easily distinguish tan, arid beaches and deserts from blue lakes, rivers, oceans and ravines,” Sunjoy Banerjee, product manager of Google Maps, said in a blog post.

The results are visually impressive, such as one showing Iceland (pictured). Whereas previously only national parks were highlighted in green, the new version of Google Maps highlights areas of greenery, along with Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Iceland, depicted in white.

Along with the visual upgrade, Google Maps is also rolling out updated street maps that show “the accurate shape and width of a road to scale.” The new look contains more information about sidewalks, pedestrian crossing and mid-road islands to allow users to cross busy intersections more safely. Banerjee also noted that “these details are particularly helpful as more people are opting to walk or take other forms of solo transportation due to the pandemic.”

The upgraded street maps service will first be available in London, New York City and San Francisco in the coming months, with plans to expand to more cities over time.

Image: Google

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