The other day on vacation I noticed that the Google Maps app behaves differently on my Android smartphone than usual: Up to now I have only briefly tapped on the map area to hide the search input field and the other elements and then clicked on the to be able to focus on the map section displayed in the full screen. In a way, it’s already in my blood: find a place, tap the screen and off you go.
Until now. But now when I tap on the map screen, a pin is placed on the map screen. The search input field is still displayed, as are the controls at the bottom (Discover, Route, Bookmarked, Contribute, New).
“Uh, what’s the point of Google?” I thought to myself. But then take a deep breath, after all you don’t want to get upset on holiday.
Google turns “tap to hide” into “swipe up”
Back from vacation, I checked what actually happened and came across this article at 9to5google.com. There, Google confirmed the change in the Google Maps Android and iOS app. The change has therefore been tested since February 2023 and is apparently now being delivered to all users.
To hide the search input field and the rest of the controls, users should now instead swipe up the search input field. So “tap to hide” became “swipe up”. This only works if you aim your finger at the search input field and then swipe slightly upwards. A little too far above or below or to the right or left of the search input field and it doesn’t work.
Conversely, a “tap to show” is enough. So when I tap on the map section with my finger, the previously hidden controls are shown again.
The question remains why that was changed
Even after much thought, I can’t think of a good explanation as to why Google dropped the “tap to hide” feature in Google Maps. After all, “tap to hide” or often “double-tap to hide” has been used by many other apps for years when it comes to hiding the user interface and users have gotten used to it.
One explanation would be: Google wants users to be able to position pins on the map more easily. In the past, you had to tap and hold the screen to drop a pin at the desired position. Now a tap should be enough. But has this made using Google Maps more intuitive? I don’t think so, especially since nothing happens when you type longer.
My suggestion to Google: Bring back the “Tap to Hide” feature and introduce the “Double-Tab to Pin” feature as far as I’m concerned. Or what do you mean?