Everybody Hates This New Google Maps Look

Rebecca Greenfield
May 8, 2013
Everybody Hates This New Google Maps Look

Google may or may not introduce a new design for Google Maps during its I/O developers conference next week, when the company will publicly discuss about "the future of Google Maps," but people are definitely complaining about the rumored design getting passed around the web today. Because Google Maps is one of those technological realities that is so commonplace as to turn emotional — people just get really upset when something that affects their everyday lives up and changes. (Surely you remember the Apple Maps crisis of last fall.) Google hasn't officially announced anything, but the Google Operating System blog posted some screen shots yesterday afternoon of a possible Maps interface redesign, which would get rid of the sidebar, swap the street colors, and update a bunch of icons:

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Here's a comparison of how the new design (pictured at right) compares to the old one (at left): 

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It's not a huge departure, of course, but here's why everyone is so upset:

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1. It Looks So Much Like Apple Maps!

The new all-white streets — as opposed to a mix of white and yellow — and especially the bigger, bolder neighborhood fonts would make Google Maps look an awful lot like Apple Maps (pictured at right), as 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman pointed out:

And to Gurman, well, that's a good thing: "Essentially, Apple Maps with good data!" he tweeted. And you can see that "data" reflected in the more detailed landscape. But other Google Maps users find it hard to discern streets from the rest of a neighborhood on Apple Maps. "The current map isn't exactly a thing of beauty but it's so easy to use. And if you're using maps, you want something functional over pretty (see Apple Maps of course)," writes Casey Chan over at Gizmodo

2. Nobody Wants More Google+ Integration!

Continuing the rampage to get us addicted to its sad social network, Google will reportedly add "capabilities" for the not-at-all-ubiquitous Google+ into its ubiquitous mapping platform. You know, so that users can learn about locations from things their friends shared on Google+. Many have expressed plenty of dissatisfaction with this force feeding of Google-made social media. And already the grumbling has begun with this latest Maps integration. The Gizmodo commenters, for example, are not pleased: "So a useless and unused feature, got it! I hate to sound like a bitter commenter who hates on Google, I'm not. I love almost everything they do but Google+ sucks balls," writes one. 

3. It's Too Mobile Optimized!

While a full-bleed, left-rail-less map would certainly look nice on an iPhone or Android device, does all design have to reflect our increasingly mobile lives? 

New Google maps: "a more immersive interface that'll probably work well on mobile devices" Probably? Oh g-d googlesystem.blogspot.com/2013/05/new-go…

— Jim Aley (@jimaley) May 8, 2013

The success of Google Maps, of course, has a lot more to do with the troves of location based information it offers our daily comings and goings than the way Google tinkers its look. So, no matter how terrible, this new Google Maps wouldn't be all that detrimental — at least not on the level of the Great Apple Maps Freakout of 2012.