Google Maps isn't just the best navigation tool on mobile phones right now — it's also the easiest way to keep track of your closest friends and family. Whether you're headed into the wilderness for a summer campout or keeping tabs on your kids as they head off to study abroad, location sharing on Maps is a crucial tool in the app. With a new update, your shared pins are getting an updated look, one that ditches the classic icon for something a little more refined.
Previously, shared locations on Maps used a white pin shape with the contact's profile photo centered. It was very reminiscent of physical maps, layouts you could throw a couple of markers on to keep track of where you're going and where you've been. One of our tipsters spotted the new look today, and while it's keeping some elements from the original look, it's also mostly removing the classic white border that made profile images stand out on your display.
Left: Old look. Middle, right: New look.
There are two distinct looks here: a standard display showing where your friends are on the map, and a view with more details when you select a contact's location. The latter adds a small pin below the image without the white border, pointing to the person's location without circling their photograph.
To be honest, this update is pretty hollow, change for the sake of change. It does fit better with the current Google Maps aesthetic, but it also stops the avatar from standing out from the map. Considering the white pin icon still appears below when you tap on the person's name, it's an odd choice to make, though some might prefer this streamlined, cleaner look.
We've spotted these changes in Maps 11.38.2, which went live on the Play Store yesterday. It should be available for everyone, but Google loves to rely on server-side updates for the smallest UI changes, so don't be surprised if it takes a couple of weeks to roll out for everyone.