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But even though Google can’t label every city, it’s still useful to know that there’s a density of cities here—so Google communicates this with a special shading: At some point, Google realized that just as it uses shadings to convey densities of cities, it could also use shadings to convey densities of businesses.And it shipped these copper-colored shadings last year as part its Summer redesign, calling them “Areas of Interest”: Annechino and Cheng spent months researching one city.
As the winter wind blows and the rain falls, there seems no way to stop the last leaf from falling.
Over the past year, we’ve been comparing Google Maps and Apple Maps in New York, San Francisco, and London—but some of the biggest differences are outside of large cities. Here the maps are strikingly different, and Apple’s looks empty compared to Google’s: Similar to what we saw earlier this year at Patricia’s Green in San Francisco, Apple’s parks are missing their green shapes.
” But the map isn’t always the territory, and the locations of these corridors aren’t immediately obvious on most online maps.
Up until last year, this was even true of Google Maps. Patricia’s Green (the park from “A Year of Google & Apple Maps”) actually sits along one of these commercial corridors in San Francisco, the Hayes Street corridor: Notice that it isn’t until z18—one of Google’s very last zooms—that we begin seeing businesses clustered along Hayes Street.
In other words, Google appears to be creating these orange buildings by matching its building and place datasets together: But what’s most interesting is that Google’s building and place data are themselves extracted from other Google Maps features.
As we saw earlier, Google’s buildings are created out of the imagery it gathers for its Satellite View: With “Areas of Interest”, Google has a feature that Apple doesn’t have.
But this still doesn’t explain the detailed shapes. The orange buildings are clearly giving the AOI its jagged shape. All of Google Maps’s buildings were grey until the day that AOIs were introduced in July 2016.
Businesses are shown as circular icons, but AOIs aren’t circular. That day, some of Google Maps’s buildings turned orange: This suggests that Google took its buildings and crunched them against its places.
In other words, we can’t tell that Hayes Street is a commercial corridor until we’re already so zoomed in, it’s the only thing in view. There’s no way to look at a map of a city and quickly spot the commercial corridors.
Look again at San Francisco: there’s no hint that the corridors (the black lines) are actually there: Of course, much of the problem is that we’re trying to find the corridors by looking for clusters of place labels (e.g., restaurants, shops, etc.).