Google Maps redesign brings more “natural” details, improved street view

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Google Maps will be rolling out an update bringing a new look to the navigation app. Soon you’ll be able to see on your maps when you zoom out the natural features of the area or region you’re looking at. You will be able to differentiate mountain caps, deserts, beaches, forests, etc from the more suburban and citified parts of the place you’re looking at. The street view will also get more details in selected cities to make it easier for people to navigate when they’re on their bikes, scooters, or feet.

Google Maps is using high-definition satellite imagery and a new color-mapping algorithmic technique and translated it into a vibrant map of the area that you’re looking at. With just one glance, you’ll be able to see which parts of your region or your country have lush greenery, arid beaches, even snowcaps on mountaintops. This means they have the most comprehensive view of natural features on any digital map right now, covering 100M square kilometers of land or 18 billion football fields if you want something relatable to compare it to.

If you’re interested in their color-mapping technique, Google shares that first they use computer vision to identify which are the natural features from their satellite imagery. The features are analyzed and assigned a range of colors using the HSV color model to give us a colorful and detailed overview of more than 220 countries and territories. Basically, wherever Google Maps is available.

While that deals with the big picture, the update will also bring us more detailed street information which will be useful for those who are biking or walking to work. You’ll be able to see the size of the street to scale, including the shape and width. You’ll see the sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian islands, which are pretty important for those who have wheelchairs, strollers, and other accessibility needs.

The new look of Google Maps will start rolling out this week. The improved street designs will start first with New York, San Francisco, and London and will come to users in the coming months and they will add more cities in the future.

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