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.Just two years after it started adding them, Google already had the majority of buildings in the U. And now after five years, it has my rural hometown—an area it still hasn’t Street View’d (after 10 years of Street View).
Rachelle Annechino and Yo-Shang Cheng explored these questions in their 2011 masters thesis, “Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco”: Many of San Francisco’s neighborhoods have a single street that commercial activity is centered around.” 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.Sue would do anything to help her friend get well, but she is a poor artist.As the winter wind blows and the rain falls, there seems no way to stop the last leaf fro Sue and Johnsy are two girlfriends who live together in New York City.Sue and Johnsy are two girlfriends who live together in New York City.When Johnsy becomes sick one winter, she makes up her mind to die when the last leaf falls from the ivy plant growing outside her window.But not only that, Google’s “Areas of Interest” (“AOIs”) are much more detailed than Annechino’s and Cheng’s corridors—notice that they have very specific and granular shapes: Where are these shapes coming from?Google has said surprisingly little about how it’s making AOIs—just that they’re generated using an “algorithmic process” that identifies “areas with the highest concentrations of restaurants, bars and shops”. Zooming in to get a closer look, the AOI shapes fade out just as buildings begin appearing on the map...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.