- Google has revamped Maps’ imagery to help you spot natural landscape features like forests and deserts.
- You can also expect more detailed street info that includes crosswalks and sidewalks.
Google Maps’ visuals have long been informative, but also a bit lifeless — you wouldn’t know a lush forest landscape from a desert unless you switched to the satellite view. Google is ready to fix that, however, and it’s improving urban navigation in the process.
The internet giant is rolling out an update to Maps’ imagery that colors the terrain based on whether it’s arid, lush, icy, or mountainous. The darker the shade of green, the denser the forests and plant life. You’ll know where the greenery is along the Moroccan coastline, for example, or just where to find the ice in Iceland.
The technique relies on computer vision (a form of AI) to scan satellite imagery and apply color-coding based on a common model. It’s available in all 220 of the countries Google Maps supports.
City dwellers, meanwhile, are getting much more help with navigation. Google is planning to introduce far more detailed street info that includes crosswalks, sidewalks, and pedestrian islands. Road shapes and sizes should be more accurate, too. You should have a better idea of where it’s safe to cross, and whether you’re dealing with a side street or a main thoroughfare.
The revamped street maps will first be available in London, New York City, and San Francisco over the “coming months,” with plans for further expansion.
These are welcome additions, but Google also has a strong incentive to make dramatic improvements. The competition is catching up, with Apple Maps recently completing a detail overhaul and soon adding perks like advanced cycling directions. This could help Google stand out or stay ahead for travelers who want the most accurate maps possible.
Read more: Google Maps vs Waze vs Apple Maps