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Will Google Maps copy the Apple Maps color palette?

Published Sep 2nd, 2023 10:33AM EDT
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I’m a longtime iPhone user, but I still have Google Maps installed on my phone. Apple Maps has come a long way since it launched and is a great navigation option. Yet, I still find myself turning to Google Maps more often than Apple Maps.

I’ve already found an exciting Apple Maps feature that Google Maps has to copy: offline map download suggestions for navigating remote areas. But I don’t think that Google should necessarily replicate the Apple Maps color palette in a future Google Maps redesign. It appears that’s what might be in the works, as some Google Maps users have seen the change on both iPhone and Android.

It’s unclear when and if Google will roll out the Google Maps redesign. But 9to5Google reports that some users are seeing the changes pop up in their iOS versions of Google Maps. Google is testing the color changes for now, and I could not replicate these findings despite running the latest Google Maps version.

Considering the screenshots showing the purportedly altered Google Maps color palette, I’ll say that Google Maps doesn’t look like an identical copy of Apple Maps. But I do see the similarities.

For example, the blue Google uses for water is changing from dark blue to Apple’s lighter option. Google’s green for forests is getting darker than Apple’s lighter tones. Below, you can see the current color palette theme for Google Maps.

Use Google Maps on the web to measure the distance between places.
Use Google Maps on the web to measure the distance between places. Image source: Chris Smith, BGR

One big change, and another similarity to Apple Maps, concerns the new color options for roads and freeways. They’re all gray compared to the white/yellow options from before. And that’s a big similarity to how Apple Maps is displaying roads.

The dark mode is largely similar to the current Google Maps dark experience, though it could always get additional updates down the road.

These visual changes would also impact the Android Google Maps experience. 9to5Google shared images showing the new colors in the directions user interface. Google users a darker shade of green, and the roads are gray.

There’s no telling when Google will roll out the new Google Maps appearance to all Android and iPhone users. Or whether it’ll proceed with the color updates after the test period is over. But if Google changes the Google Maps colors, expect similar tones for the web version of the popular navigation app.

As a longtime Google Maps user, I don’t think I care that much about the color options and whether they’ll resemble Apple Maps. However, there’s no denying that the current Google Maps color palette is immediately recognizable. It’ll take a while for Google Maps enthusiasts to get used to the new colors if they roll out.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.