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Google Maps To Undergo Minor UI Upgrade

The Google Maps and Street View could get a minor upgrade to their user interface. Currently, the navigational controls on these mapping applications appear separate from the actual image area. According to a patent application filed by Google with the US Patents & Trademark Office, the new UI could bring these controls on top of the location being viewed.

Google explains that such a change could make better use of the screen space.

“Conventional navigation controls are often located on a tool bar in the UI which is separate from the image display area. Having the navigation controls located at a different location in the UI than the imagery can consume screen space which could be otherwise used for providing additional UI functionality, advertising and the like. Moreover, having the navigation controls separate from the imagery can force the user to take their eyes off the imagery while navigating.”

The application notes that this will also improve upon one other important navigational element. Currently, users have to navigate incrementally through clicks – either on the navigational controls on the top corner of the page or by flicking through the image itself. The new controls, the patent application says, will let users to merely click on the navigational wheel to denote navigation and merely drag the cursor to various directions to see the mapping application respond appropriately.

“The user rotates imagery by clicking on any portion of the rotation control 302 and dragging the cursor to affect the rotation. The rotation control 302 allows the user to rotate smoothly in all directions without incremental stops. In some implementations, the rotation control 302 includes “sticky” points at North, South, East and West to help the user hit an exact target orientation.”

Google Maps Patent

Google maps patent application

The application was filed in March of this year and has been made public only recently.

2 replies on “Google Maps To Undergo Minor UI Upgrade”

Hey Thomas,

There are a few pointers in the patent that points out that this is not the one we have already seen with the Google Earth: Here is a quote from the patent

“The navigation interface 104 can be initially located anywhere in the imagery 102 based on a preset location, which can be changed by the user through a user interface element (e.g., preference pane, menu, etc.). In some implementations, the user can click and drag the navigation interface 104 to any location in the imagery 102. The navigation interface 104 can be made semi-translucent to allow the imagery 102 to be viewed by the user through the navigation interface 104. In some implementations, the navigation interface can be resized by clicking on a portion (e.g., a handle) of the navigation interface 104 with, for example, a mouse cursor 106 and dragging the handle across the imagery 102 using known techniques for resizing graphical objects in a UI. ”

Besides, the patent application explicitly notes that this is very similar to navigation controls seen on Google Earth and that the interface is being introduced to make more space for advertising. So, it kinda makes me believe that this is inspired by Google Earth for Maps

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