Google Rolls Out Visual Improvements to Maps

Google announced that it is rolling out visual improvements to Google Maps. The purpose seems to be to give people a way to get a good look at the details in a specific location. I imagine that those who really want to travel, but cannot due to COVID-19, might use the update Google Maps to do some virtual traveling.

Google Maps has high-definition satellite imagery of 97 percent of the world’s population. With a new color-mapping algorithmic technique, Google is able to take that imagery and translate it into an even more comprehensive, vibrant map of an area at a global scale. The result is that people can more easily look at the natural features of a specific area.

With this update, Google Maps has one of the most comprehensive views of natural features on any major map app – with availability in all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports. That’s coverage for over 100M square kilometers of land, or 18 billion football fields.

In addition, Google Maps will soon enable users to see highly detailed street information that shows the accurate shape and width of a road to scale. It will show exactly where sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian islands are located. Google points out that this kind of information is crucial to people who have accessibility needs.

Personally, I think this addition is fantastic! People who use wheelchairs need to know if a sidewalk has a “curb cut” or slope that will make it possible for them to get their wheelchair onto or off of a sidewalk. The same feature can help parents who are talking a walk and pushing their infant or toddler in a stroller.

Google will start rolling out detailed street maps in London, New York, and San Francisco in the coming months. The company has plans to expand more cities over time.