A Year’s Worth of Changes in Google and Apple Maps

Justin O’Beirne is back with a look at how both Google and Apple Maps have changed incrementally over the past year.

Shortly after I published my Cartography Comparison last June, I noticed Google updating some of the areas we had focused on[.]

Coincidence or not, it was interesting. And it made me wonder what else would change, if we kept watching. Would Google keep adding detail? And would Apple, like Google, also start making changes?

So I wrote a script that takes monthly screenshots of Google and Apple Maps. And thirteen months later, we now have a year’s worth of images […]

It’s cool to see how much Google Maps has changed over the past year. But it’s also surprising to see how little Apple Maps has changed[.]

Previously: What Happened to Google Maps?; The Universal Map; Comparing Google and Apple Map Styles.

When Users Don’t Interact with Interactive Maps

Brian Timoney responds to the argument that few users actually interact with interactive infographics with some thoughts on how that might apply to online maps, with their sometimes-complicated, GIS-derived user interfaces. His suggestions? Static maps, small multiples, animated GIFs, text-based search—simpler, more user-friendly, more familiar UIs and ways to present mapped data.

The Transit Line Colour Palette

MIT grad student Ari Ofsevit created an infographic showing the colours used to mark transit lines by a number of different North American transit agencies and posted it to Twitter last month, where he got all kinds of feedback. (One response pointed out that the colour choices aren’t great for red-green colour blindness.) Ofsevit, who also makes hiking trail maps in the style of transit maps, is running a Kickstarter to create a poster of the transit palette. [Next City]

New York Times Maps Receive Infographic Award

The New York Times

The New York Times Graphics Department was recognized at the 25th Malofiej International Infographics Awards, where the jury awarded the special Miguel Urabayen Award for the best map to two Times maps: “Trump’s America” in the printed category and “The Two Americas of 2016” (above) in the online category. Press release. [The History of Cartography Project]

Atlas of Design, Volume 3

The third volume of the Atlas of Design is now available for pre-order and will ship some time this month. The Atlas’s 32 maps are listed here; Wired’s report has a gallery of some of them. At least one or two will probably look familiar to my regular readers. Published by the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), the 98-page book costs $35 (with a 25 percent discount for NACIS members like me).

The Financial Times Searches for a Better Election Map

The Financial Times
The Financial Times

Martin Stabe of the Financial Times looks at the paper’s options for displaying the 2016 U.S. presidential results. Which to use, map or cartogram? In the end, neither: they’re going with a dot map—a compromise “that attempts to take the best from the other methods.”

The white underlying geographic map places states in their familiar size, shape and location, allowing them to be identified quickly. Using a cluster of dots rather than a solid fill to represent the outcome ensures that the amount of red and blue on the map accurately reflects states’ weight in the election outcome, rather than the (irrelevant) surface area.

Like the tiled grid cartogram, the number of electoral votes in each state is easy to compare visually without counting or interpreting numbers printed on the map. Because each electoral vote is a discrete mark, it is possible to accurately represent the split electoral votes that are possible in Maine and Nebraska, or the possibility of a faithless elector.

Technical details and source code here.

Previously: A Primer on Election Map CartographyMore Election Cartography Primers.

How the Transit App Got Its Curves

transit-appThe makers of the Transit app (iPhone, Androidlike to point out that whereas Apple’s transit maps are beautiful but basically hand-drawn and added manually and slowly, and Google’s maps are algorithmically generated but look terrible, their maps are algorithmically generated but look smooth and neat. A technical post by their backend developer explains in ridiculous detail how they managed to auto-generate their smooth, curved transit network maps.

Making Maps, Third Edition

making-maps-3rdOn the Making Maps: DIY Cartography blog, John Krygier announces the third edition of his and Denis Wood’s Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS, out this month from Guilford Press. The new edition of this extremely visual guide includes more than 40 new pages of content, Krygier says, plus new maps and examples and other changes he details in the blog post. Buy at Amazon.

(I reviewed the first edition back in 2006. I knew a lot less about cartography back then, and I suspect it shows.)

Slate on the New Look of Google Maps

Google Maps’s new, cleaner look, which rolled out last month and replaces clusters of points of interest with coloured “areas of interest,” “represents the company’s ongoing efforts to transform Maps from a navigational tool to a commercial interface and offers the clearest proof yet that the geographic web—despite its aspirations to universality—is a deeply subjective entity,” writes Henry Grabar in Slate.

Don’t Make a Map

Martin Burch, data developer for the Wall Street Journal, has posted his presentation from the GeoJourNews 2016 conference. Called “Don’t Make a Map,” it explores situations where presenting your data in the form of a map is actually a bad idea, and looks at some better alternatives. “Always make a map,” he concludes, “but don’t always publish it.” Very much in the vein of similar pieces by Darla Cameron (of the Washington Post) and Matthew Ericson (of the New York Times). [Carla Astudillo]

Previously: The End of Maps in Seven Charts.

Comparing Google and Apple Map Styles

Justin O’Beirne, who has previously mused about the possibility of a Universal Map and looked at how Google Maps has changed over the past few years, has now embarked on a multi-part comparison of the cartographic designs of Google Maps and Apple Maps. “We’ll take a look at what’s on each map and how each map is styled, and we’ll also try to uncover the biggest differences between the two.” The first part is already up: it looks at city labels, highway markers, road labels, and points of interest, and reveals some interesting divergences in terms what each platform chooses to put on the map. (Note that it’s a very big page, and even on a fast connection the images may take some time to load.) [Cartophilia]

‘What Happened to Google Maps?’

obeirne-google

In an essay called “What Happened to Google Maps?” Justin O’Beirne notes that between 2010 and 2016 Google Maps has changed from emphasizing cities at the expense of roads to emphasizing the road network at the expense of cities—a turn he chalks up to the shift to mobile device usage—and turns to a 1960s-era paper map to demonstrate what he thinks a balanced Google Maps should look like. An interesting look at the design choices in online maps. [Cartophilia]