What Happened to Google Maps?

Pictured above: The same area and zoom in 2010 and 2016. Notice how many fewer labels are on the 2016 map. Comparing the screenshots above, the majority of the missing labels are city labels. Just how many fewer cities are labeled on today's map? Let's count:

Justin O’Beirne has posted a thoughtful and informative series of reflections upon the changing visualisation patterns of Google Maps. From a visualisation system which previously emphasised the cities and towns, Google has quietly moved in recent years to a pattern of data visualisation which emphasises more the roads themselves at the expense of the cities and towns. A major change, with numerous logical repercussions on usability. Justin’s price provides examples of the changes and notes a number of UX issues which arise from the switch in design philosophy.