Last May at Google I/O, we introduced Styled Maps which offers control over map features and color schemes. Stylishly ending the “one-size-fits-all” approach to base maps.

This new cartographic concept was met with a lot of excitement for where developers would take it and since launch we’ve seen some very innovative work. Listed below are five great examples of Styled Maps.

London at Night

Mapnificent’s “London at Night” dynamically displays bus travel time. The base map is styled to create a nighttime feel and to emphasize major roads. Additionally, the darker base layer creates a better contrast for the isochrone visualization.

Athens Taxi Cost Calculator

This taxi calculator differentiates itself (and adds some Greek flare) by turning the base map black and the roads blue. Queried taxi routes are displayed in a highly contrasted red.

Google 2010 Election Ratings Map

Josh Livni and the Elections Team here at Google did a great job styling this election rating map. Features that are less relevant to the overlaid data (such as roads, landscape features, and bodies of water) have been lightened and no longer visually compete for attention. Whereas state and city labels, which are of high relevance, remain easy to read. The mash-up is powered by Fusion Tables, which integrates easily into Google Maps API v3.

Ubilabs’ Tour de France live tracker

In order to focus attention on the Tour de France route, Ubilabs grayed out the entire base map. With the rest of the map a much less interesting black and white, a red curving line emerges as the dramatic centerpiece of this mash-up.

Aquila Shoes Store Locator

Australian retailer Aquila Shoes used Styled Maps to match their branding and website color schemes.

Honorable Mention
Maps Without Maps

Maps without Maps challenges us to rethink how we interact with maps. Using Styled Maps to show only labels, finding a location on the map suddenly feels like a foreign task. It’s a wonderful thought-provoking experience.

Update 10/7/10:

Team Coco Blimp Tracker

On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, Conan O'Brien launched a giant orange blimp to publicize his new show on TBS. As Conan joyrides across the US east coast, fans all over the world can track the blimp in real time using Google Maps. Styled Maps was used to turn the roads orange: a nod to the blimp and Conan's famous hair.