Antin Harasymiv
Nov 1, 2018 · 1 min read

Great question. Google gives developers a lot of control over the style via the API:

Developers can change colors, density, and visibility of all sorts of elements, including the land cover etc… so I think it may actually already be possible today (and I know the team are always looking at how to best support developers so I imagine they’re discussing more options).

That said, for the default styling, it’s a constant balancing act between just enough information and too much. One assumption that the designers have made is that at zoomed out views the city detail is less important, and terrain is more relevant, but as you zoom more and more in it’s the city detail that starts to be prominent — and they start to use shading to designate things like downtown areas and busyness.

Here is a pretty interested article someone external wrote about the evolution of Google Maps — it’s a very detailed analysis:

https://www.justinobeirne.com/a-year-of-google-maps-and-apple-maps/

    Antin Harasymiv

    Written by

    UX Engineer @Google

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