Impossible Maps W1 HW

So I have some comments.

I may be a bit biased, being a near-daily Google Maps user myself, but I quite like Google Maps better than Apple Maps. For Part 1, the author points out that far more cities are labeled in Apple Maps, particularly in zoom 8. Labelling 44 cities in such a small space completely clutters up the tile and renders it all but illegible. You don’t need that much detail at a higher-level view. Also, at a higher-level view, chances are you’re driving and not walking—which is probably why Google prioritized “shields” over cities.

However, at a lower level, Apple has these interesting high-fidelity, individual landmark markers rather than using a generic marker for each type of POIs. As a person who navigates by landmark and gets confused by street names, I actually do appreciate this detail.

Because of this, and because Google Maps tends to label far more roads and “shields” than Apple, I want to hypothesize that perhaps Apple Maps is prioritizing the pedestrian, while Google Maps is prioritizing the driver. But Apple Maps seems to give you more information at higher level zooms, then dissolves into minimalism as you zoom in and expect to get more information. As a Manhattanite, I need those subway station markers!

I would also like to express my horror at this “Frakenstein map”:

What good is that much information when you can’t read it? And when do you ever need that much information?

If users do indeed crave “the whole picture”, perhaps there should be two map modes: one for navigation, which emphasizes roads and their labels; and the other for general exploration, which emphasizes cities and POI’s. As a chronic pedestrian and global traveller, I honestly have no need for the former information—I’m either walking to a building or subway station and therefore only need street names at a low level zoom, or I’m zoomed all the way out and planning my next vacation, and therefore only need political borders and major city names.

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