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Google Maps just made exploring cities easier than ever

Google Maps just made exploring cities easier than ever

Google is rarely one for a fanfare, and the recent changes to Google Maps likely went unnoticed by many. Aside from some delicate aesthetic improvements, Google has now added "areas of interest". These algorithmically selected and highlighted areas could change the way you explore cities both new and familiar.

You may have noticed that Google Maps has developed a breakout of peachy blotches. These areas of discoloration over the face of the earth are symptomatic of a new feature that Google recently rolled out.

Each peachy stain represents an "area of interest", that is, an area particularly busy with economic and social activity, be it shops, bars or restaurants.

AndroidPIT google maps areas of interest 1
The new shading extends to individual buildings. / © AndroidPIT

Browsing around Berlin, I found the results to be pretty accurate, highlighting popular and interesting areas containing many of my favorite spots. That is not to say the algorithm is perfect. There are problems: some cities are all but covered in orange, only businesses added to Google Maps register, and, ultimately, Google is not really in the cartography business but the advertising business.

Nonetheless, for a quick overview, it's a very promising feature, and one that I will no doubt find myself using the next time I visit a new city or head to a neighborhood I am unfamiliar with.

AndroidPIT google maps areas of interest 2
Some cities, such as Prague, are a little over-saturated. / © AndroidPIT

And, as is Google's forte, it has implemented something extremely complex in a deceptively simple fashion, so simple that is easily overlooked or underestimated.

Aside from this exciting addition, Google has made Maps subtly more attractive, dispensing with inessential elements, such as road outlines, and adjusting its color scheme to make different areas and building types more readily distinguishable.

What do you think of Google's areas of interest? Will you be making use of the new feature?

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  • it`s Irritating!!! how it deactivate, how turn off this function explore area? it`s Irritating!!!

  • Wooooo

  • oh that is neat! Just checked it out, seems to highlight most of the sights or busy areas around Alexanderplatz in Berlin.

    I am wondering if the highlighting is dynamic and changes depending on the time of the day? If that is the goal, then this feature would be extremely useful.

    One use-case for me - I usually prefer less crowded places of interest when I travel. I could map my way by relying on the GM live report. =D

    Deactivated Account

  • Other changes are more imortant to me, namely improvements to offline area, updating, and microSD access. I'm very happy with the new Maps. The "area of interest" markings are pretty accurate for Toronto, maybe overdone for Montreal with nearly every high street marked. In some cities this will be very helpful to find nearby food, drink and entertainment, and in others as hazard zones for tourist and Pokemon-chasing hordes to avoid.

  •   10
    Deactivated Account Aug 12, 2016 Link to comment

    Even if it wasn't good, there's no alternative to Google Maps anyway.

    • WAZE

    • Navmii is good and works offline also Navigator is a handy offline gps

    • Not true. Here maps (rebranded to HereWeGo) is a solid alternative.

    • I've been using Mappy GPS on a long term basis as an offline GPS for navigation only, before I took 4G cell plan.
      I knew Google Map, and waze could be good partners, had POI and some sort of social experience.
      The main drawback of Mappy was it couldn't be installed or moved to extsdcard.
      For me too, Google Maps is the best in many aspects. Waze social infos are even integrated in Google Maps.

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