Justin O'Beirne

Justin O'Beirne of San Francisco, California. Essays, projects, and contact information.



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What's Labeled Most on Each Map?


Our earlier investigations have given us enough data to see what’s labeled most on each map, across all zooms:

Let’s take the numbers from the table above and convert them into a couple of bar graphs:

There are some big differences here: more than anything else, Google labels Roads—and Apple labels Cities.

Let’s combine these two charts into one, for easier comparing:

Google has more Land & WaterCountryCountry Sub-AreaCity Sub-Area, and Road labels than Apple — and Apple has more City and Place labels than Google.

The difference between City and Road labels is especially large:

Across all of its zooms, Apple has over twice as many City labels as Google. And Google has almost twice as many Road labels as Apple.

*   *   *

Google has a higher total of Road labels than any other kind of label—and Apple has a higher total of City labels. But what does each map label for the most zoom-levels?

Take City and Road labels, for instance:

On our New York map pairs, Google labels Cities on fewer zooms than Apple—but it also labels Roads for more zooms than Apple:

Let’s see how many zooms each of our other categories appear on:

Now, let’s plot the averages:

On Google, Road labels appear for more zooms than any other kind of label. And on Apple, City labels appear for more zooms than any other label:

So not only does Google have more Road labels, in total, than any other kind of label, Road labels also appear for the most zoom-levels.

And not only does Apple have more City labels, City labels also appear for the most zooms.

Two different views of the world.

*   *   *

Our past four investigations focused on labeling, so now let’s switch gears and compare the overall detail between the two maps.

Is one map more detailed than the other? And does one map show details that the other doesn’t? Let’s explore these questions in greater detail…


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