Google Maps’ New Design Sparks Criticism Over Visibility and Navigation Clarity

Google Maps' New Design Sparks Criticism Over Visibility and Navigation Clarity

Google has rolled out the new map design with altered color schemes for Google Maps to many more customers. Since August 2023, the new map display has been activated for initial customers. The company itself does not inform customers about the introduction of the new map display.

The new map layout has sparked frustration among Google Maps users. This is evident from a glance at social networks, Reddit forums, and the reviews in the App Store as well as the Play Store. The majority of current reviews in the app stores lament the new color scheme – resulting in a significant number of 1-star reviews – the lowest possible rating.

Critics unanimously agree that essential information is less discernible in the map visuals compared to the previous color scheme. Google Maps now employs different colors for roads, residential areas, water bodies, parks, and more in the altered design. A lack of contrast is criticized, making it harder for people with reduced visibility to interpret the information.

Google Maps depicts roads in shades of gray

The consensus among critics is that orientation within the map visuals has become more challenging. One of the most notable changes concerns the marking of major highways and national roads, which were displayed in yellow in the old map design. This made important roadways easily identifiable at a glance. Even highways were presented in yellow and were therefore easily recognizable at first glance.

In the new color design, all roads, national roads, main streets, and highways are rendered in a shade of gray that barely stands out from the foreground. Although the background color of cities and residential areas has also changed with the new color scheme, the contrast difference between roads and the background is very minimal.

Distinguishing between water and land areas has become harder

Criticism also extends to the rail systems of local and long-distance trains, as well as commuter trains, which have become less distinguishable. They are hardly distinguishable from roads anymore, making it more challenging for people to orient themselves within the map visuals, according to critics. Additionally, the colors for green spaces and water bodies have been altered, making them less distinguishable from one another.

Many users are urging Google to revert this change. Very sporadically, there are responses from Google in the app stores promising to forward the criticism to the appropriate authorities.

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Mark Brannon
Tech journalist Mark Brannon explores the digital frontier, delivering engaging news and in-depth features on cutting-edge innovations and industry developments.