Google started to roll out an improved version of Google Maps in January 2021. The new version introduced details, such as crosswalks, footpaths, pedestrian refuge islands, to Google Maps. The functionality is still rolling out and only available in select locations at the time of writing.
Probably the most interesting part of the change is that Google is using an automated system for much of the data. Google is analyzing and processing satellite imagery and Street View recordings automatically to introduce the new level of details on Google Maps.
The first cities that received the treatment are London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The rollout and the limited number of locations with the feature suggests that it is used for testing purposes. Google needs to make sure that the error level is low before rolling out the functionality to other locations in the world.
The following screenshot demonstrates how crosswalks are now displayed on Google Maps in those locations.
The new level of detail adds more information to Google Maps. Besides the already mentioned crosswalks, footpaths and pedestrian refuge islands, users may see additional details such as transportation facilities and even edge of carriageway details.
Some details may need adjusting. If you zoom in on Central Park in New York, you may notice that it is harder to follow footpaths on the new updated Google Maps. Footpaths, displayed as a solid line previously may lack path information on the new Google Maps.
It is unclear at this point whether Google will fine tune the display of footpaths before rolling out the new level of detail to additional regions.
Details such as crosswalks or pedestrian refuge islands are useful additions to Google Maps as they are useful to pedestrians. The improved level of details needs a bit of adjusting and tinkering, especially when it comes to the display of footpaths.
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