Yahoo Japan Maps Refresh Quick Look

Yahoo Japan Maps got a complete refresh with a major app update for iOS and Android. Yahoo! Map (YJM) always has the best cartography of the major Japanese players: Apple, Google, and Yahoo Japan. Now it is even better. I’ll do a full review later but here is a quick look and comparison with Apple and Google Maps.

Basic Cartography
At you can see in the comparison below Yahoo Japan Maps is cleaner and icons match street signage. What you see in the map is what you see on the ground. Google and Apple cartography go in for color coded icons of their own making for restaurants. medical services, public institutions, etc. Apple cartography in particular has a color icon fetish that to me looks like a bad case of chicken pox.

YJM attention to real signage is clear in the close up comparisons of Koenji Station below. YJM shows exit/entrance signage in the actual yellow color you see in stations, something that Apple and Google never do, as well as the Koenji McDonald’s under the train track trestle.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Google and Apple maps are designed as one cartography fits all solution that discard and ignore local signage conventions. That’s nice for the international crowd but not for locals, the people who actually live and work here.

Yahoo Map designers live and work in Japan and that is reflected in the product detail.

Yahoo Koenji
Yahoo Japan Map Koenji Station, Tokyo
Apple Koenji
Apple Maps Koenji Station, Tokyo: Is this a map or a case of chicken pox?
Google Koenji
Google Maps Koenji Station, Tokyo: Google has been going in for lower contrast and custom color icons recently. Almost as if they were copying Apple’s cartoon cartography.


Indoor Mapping
Another area where Yahoo Japan Maps shine is indoor mapping. Google forces the user to zoom in before showing UI controls to access station floor plans in bit and pieces. Apple shows you almost nothing at all. YJM gives you a UI control even when zoomed out and treats the entire station structure as one discrete object with different floors. Of the three major Japanese maps products, YJM delivers floor plan information without unnecessary zooming and scrolling.