SS1 New user-interface seen on the left
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SS1

New user-interface seen on the left

While Apple Maps got off to a rocky start, with many of us opting to use Google Maps instead, it did manage to gradually win back our confidence – with three times as many users as its Google rival by the end of last year. But Google is working hard to tempt back iOS users with an improved user-interface and a new way to highlight where the action is when visiting a new city.

The most visible difference is that many road outlines have been replaced with solid color. This small change makes a surprisingly big difference to the clarity of the maps, as seen above. But it’s the new ‘areas of interest’ feature that may provide the greatest temptation to switch apps …

As you explore the new map, you’ll notice areas shaded in orange representing “areas of interest”—places where there’s a lot of activities and things to do. To find an “area of interest” just open Google Maps and look around you. When you’ve found an orange-shaded area, zoom in to see more details about each venue and tap one for more info. Whether you’re looking for a hotel in a hot spot or just trying to determine which way to go after exiting the subway in a new place, “areas of interest” will help you find what you’re looking for with just a couple swipes and a zoom.

Google’s blog explains that it uses an algorithm to identify the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops in most areas, but supplements this with ‘a human touch’ in high-density areas like NY.

A new color scheme also aims to make it easier to differentiate built-up areas from rural ones.

Check out the brief video below for a (silent) demo of the ‘areas of interest’ feature. Previous improvements to the app include giving ride fares and pickup times for six different car services, pit stops and gas prices with business hours. Apple Maps, in contrast, has been majoring on bringing 3D Flyover and traffic data to more locations.

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