In recent months, the Google Maps interface on mobile has seen a number of changes, in particular a new bottom bar for directions and finding interesting places around you. The latest change adds a third FAB to the app’s main screen for switching between map layers.
In the upper-right hand corner, there is a new floating action button for setting map layers underneath the search bar. These controls were previously located in the navigation drawer, but Google has decided to move them to the forefront of the app. This is similar to how Maps on the web has long has a fast shortcut in the corner for switching to satellite view.
To help guide users through the transition, a “Satellite & traffic” shortcut is still available in the navigation drawer. However, it notes that “Layers have moved” with a tap highlighting and temporarily enlarging the new FAB.
Opening the FAB presents two sets of controls. The first is for switching between the default, satellite, or terrain map type. Underneath, map details allow users to overlay transit, traffic, and bicycling information. Unlike how all other UI elements disappear when taking Google Maps full screen, the layers FAB remains on-screen in the corner.
This new FAB is more useful than housing several controls in the navigation drawer and is unobtrusive enough to go unnoticed. It began rolling out over the weekend.