This is one of those seemingly simple things that I wanted to do for one of our client sites that turned into a slight obsession because it seems like an obvious and increasingly necessary feature.
I’d like to see night-mode as an option for online mapping. I know that customized embedded maps are possible by overlaying tiles as described in the APIs of Google/Mapquest/Yahoo and the recent ALA Article. I actually like the fact that this is a little complicated to implement because the average user shouldn’t have the power to tweak standard base map colors – think MySpace profiles
<shudder />. However, if you own a vehicle GPS, it probably has a day and a night mode. In night-mode, the color of the map tiles are inverted to decrease the brightness of the screen for nighttime driving. Why is this a necessary feature for online maps?
- To embed on websites with dark backgrounds. – Embeddable interactive maps are a huge asset to website developers and Google has made these very easy to implement. If you embed these maps on a sites with dark backgrounds though, you’ll create quite a visual magnet due to the sharp contrast of the light colored maps. While an inverted map may not mesh exactly with a website’s color scheme, the reduced contrast would make an embedded map much easier on the eyes.
- For nighttime users of the mobile web. – While I don’t have an iphone yet, I would love to have one simply for access to Google Maps. Imagine if Google Maps on the iPhone (or even the entire interface) could automatically switch into night-mode at dusk like a vehicle navigation system.
Seems obvious and increasingly necessary to me. To demo what this might look like, I’ve set up a simple HTML mockup – with a dark background of course. What do you think?