One of my small pet peeves when using Google Maps in a new city or country is the lack of crosswalk details for walking directions. The app might tell me it takes twenty minutes to go from one point to another, but it could realistically be a lot more than that when you factor in crosswalks, especially if those aren't exactly on my path but require a little detour. Google is now starting to remedy that by rolling out super accurate street details in four major cities, which include crosswalks, pedestrian islands, and more.
The change was announced last year in August, but we only got a glimpse of it in action in December. Now, it seems that the rollout is reaching more users, even if it's still not live for all. We also know the four cities where these details will be available:
- London, UK (Central London)
- New York City, USA
- San Francisco, USA
- Tokyo, Japan (Central Tokyo)
To check it out, visit one of these cities on your phone and zoom in enough to get to street level. Once there, and if the feature is live for you, you'll notice several improvements. Road widths, rounded corners, and even roadside vegetations will be accurately depicted. Crosswalks, medians, and pedestrian islands will be pointed out, so you know exactly where to cross to street. And parks will show the real width of pathways in dark green as well as any stairs in grey, providing better accessibility info for anyone in a wheelchair or with a stroller.
We've taken a few comparative screenshots from the four cities below, to show you what you can expect.
Left: Tokyo intersection before. Right: Now with crosswalks.
Left: London roads and park before. Right: Crosswalks, pedestrian islands, and roadside vegetation.
Left: Central Park before. Right: Notice the more realistic pathways (dark green) and stairs (grey).
Left: Major intersection in San Francisco before. Right: Accurate road width and curves, crosswalks, pedestrian islands.
These street-level details are rolling out as a server-side update, regardless of Maps app version and beta status. Even on the same device, you may notice that they show up when you're logged in with one account, but revert when you switch to another.