Google Maps updated with visual improvements for MENA region

Who hasn’t used Google Maps, or Maps as they like to refer to it? I do and it’s been a lifesaver when it comes to navigating a place or following directions. With so many natural features like mountains and rivers shown on Maps, colours have been a slight issue in clearly highlighting their density (imagine seeing with your eyes that there’s a thick forest infront of you but Maps only shows a small amount of it). That’s all about to change very soon. Google is rolling out visual improvements for Maps worldwide including countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Google’s official blog explains it in more detail. I’ve managed to distil it down into something more simple to understand (you can still visit the post here).

Refining details for easy identification

There’s a new color-mapping algorithmic technique that uses the high-definition satellite imagery used for Google Maps. As Google describes it, the algorithm creates a “comprehensive, vibrant map of an area at a global scale.”

This new visual update makes it easier to distinguish between natural features in each country and their density. That includes small jungles, thick forests, beaches, and many other natural landscapes.

Before (left) and After (right) changes, following visual improvements released on Google Maps

How does this new colour-mapping algorithm work? It’s all powered by computer vision to identify natural features from satellite imagery. The AI analyses and assigns a range of colours, so that users easily know that a thick forest would be darker shade of green and parks with a lighter shade.

Google’s new algorithm identified various terrain types such as arid, forested, mountainous, and icy landscapes; then assigns each of these natural features a range of colours from the HSV (Hue, Saturation, and Vibrance) colour model.

Maps users on iOS, iPadOS, Android-powered devices, and desktop users will start seeing these changes soon as they’re being rolled out.

Pedestrian-friendly navigation in cities

The improvements don’t stop there. There will also be street-level data improvements to Google Maps, including accurate road sizes and shapes. For the many that dwell in cities or small towns, there are improvements coming for pedestrians.

Users will be able to see sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian islands are located. That’s crucial information if you people have accessibility needs, like wheelchair or stroller requirements.

Before (left), you couldn’t even see the walkways. After (right), is what you’ll see which makes it easy for pedestrians

Roll out of this addition detailed is coming to main global cities like London, New York, and San Francisco in the coming months. Plans have been put in place by Google to expand it more cities over time, hopefully to the Middle East in the next batch.

Image source: Google

Author: Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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