Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd May 2016 19:11 UTC
Google

Browsing Google Maps over the past year or so, I've often thought that there are fewer labels than there used to be. Google's cartography was revamped three years ago - but surely this didn't include a reduction in labels? Rather, the sparser maps appear to be a recent development.

An interesting article, for sure, but the final conclusion at the end of the article is a case of false equivalency; just because a classic paper map and a modern digital map are both 'maps', doesn't mean they are equivalents. There's no zooming and (easy) panning on paper maps, no search functionality, no natural language processing, no automatic route planning, no dynamic display, nothing. You can't simply apply what works for paper maps onto a static, fixed-zoom portion of a digital map and call it a day.

That being said, Google Maps does have several really annoying lapses in interface judgement, such as that really annoying 'local photo's' bar that keeps popping back up no matter how often you tell it you're not interested, but that's a different matter altogether.

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slow
by le_c on Mon 2nd May 2016 20:09 UTC
le_c
Member since:
2013-01-02

And why google maps became soooo slow? It was blazing fast and responsive years ago now it loads forever ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: slow
by darknexus on Mon 2nd May 2016 20:12 UTC in reply to "slow"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

And why google maps became soooo slow? It was blazing fast and responsive years ago now it loads forever ;)

Hmm. The Android development team must have gotten their hands on it. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Google map changes
by Alfman on Mon 2nd May 2016 20:36 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

This was an excellent writeup and historical comparison by the author.

Google probably brought on designers from the minimalist school of thought (the same kind that apple and microsoft went with) and threw them in front of google maps to work their minimalist magic: "we can remove the labels!". It's bad enough when UI designers remove usability context clues, but the whole reason for a map to exist is to provide context.

The author concludes these changes may have been made for mobile/tablet users, however the lack of balance is equally frustrating for mobile & tablet users too. I absolutely hate having to zoom in on an otherwise sparse map just to get road names or city names to display on the map. This zooming would be completely unnecessary if only they'd display a more appropriate level of details to begin with. Despite what Thom says about not being the same thing, the old paper map makers really did a much better job.

Reply Score: 10

Comment by Licaon_Kter
by Licaon_Kter on Mon 2nd May 2016 21:44 UTC
Licaon_Kter
Member since:
2010-03-19

Why did I just read that ?

The whole article breaks if you throw the "it's digital dummy, just search or zoom in FFS" argument at it ;)

Edited 2016-05-02 21:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

I can't find it
by kwan_e on Tue 3rd May 2016 10:23 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

the final conclusion at the end of the article is a case of false equivalency; just because a classic paper map and a modern digital map are both 'maps', doesn't mean they are equivalents.


I can't find that conclusion at the end of the article. Maybe I need a map? Or maybe it's been edited (or a trap street article), I can't tell.

The version of the article I'm reading argues for a better balance of labels and spacing.

Reply Score: 2

Photo Bar
by Earl C Pottinger on Tue 3rd May 2016 12:26 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

One thing I know about the photo bar.

It can be useful, I have used it a number of times, but there are times when I don't want it on my screen and it does pop up at what to me are exactly the times I don't want it present.

But on Sunday when I did want the photo for a place I was checking out - NO PHOTO BAR!

Turns out if no-one has taken pictures of an area you have zoomed in on then there is no bar. but also there is no notice that there are no photos in that area.

It took me just a short while to figure it out, a simple line saying "No Photos Available" wold have saved time.

Reply Score: 1

jgfenix
Member since:
2006-05-25

Supposedly one of the advantages of the "digital era" is the huge amount of information that is available. Also in Google Maps you can put custom layers of data. So a map with no data is not very useful.

Reply Score: 3