Google Tests Simpler Maps Interface That Only Serves To Detract From Functionality

Can too many updates and revamps be a bad thing? Regardless of whether or not this question needs to be answered, Google Maps is on the prowl to take the query as far as it can. The service has recently rolled out a new map interface that, while simplifying the general layout, serves to make navigating a tad bit more cumbersome.

Google Maps has had no end to its creative list of new endeavors and user interface (UI) tweaks, mind you. Having said that, almost any person paying the slightest bit of attention to the app's developmental history might note that there have been a lot of updates, both minute and major, to its UI. Just recently, Maps rolled out the ability to simultaneously interact with both the vanilla map interface along with Street View. Which, admittedly, is a nice functional change to the norm that serves to improve one's overall user experience.

Google Maps has recently experimented with a new UI for when destination points are added in order to generate a route and ETA. The update itself is concerned with removing certain features, in order to give the overall interface a simpler and less cluttered look as opposed to the older version. A notable feature to get the axe is the ability to compare ETAs between different vehicles, typically found right below the starting point and destination box. Which is where the debate of less is more sort of shatters.

One should note that comparative ETAs are very much still present. They can now be encountered by scrolling down on the new interface, which will display vehicles turn by turn. Now, while this isn't too massive a change from the vanilla interface, it's also an unnecessary one that only takes away from the typical user experience instead of adding upon it. The change means that users can no longer tap on an icon and quickly reveal the corresponding ETA, instead having to opt for scrolling down until the relevant vehicle pops up. People can also no longer directly click on the relevant ETA, and have to potentially sift through irrelevant information before reaching their goal.

This author can understand the thought process behind the new layout. It's admittedly a better look for Maps, with a cleaner interface and boxes with curved, smoother edges as opposed to the current sharp edges. It falls right in line with the current wave of minimalism in design that's overtaking perhaps every marketing team on the face of this planet. However, a better design at the cost of a better UX is ultimately a waste of developer time and effort. Thankfully, the new UI has not completely rolled out yet, and thus seems to be under A/B testing. Therefore, it may never see the light of day.


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