In a new update hitting desktop, Android and iOS today, the Google Maps team has done a little design housekeeping to clear some of the clutter and create a cleaner look across the board. While doing away with certain elements like road outlines, the update also adds a new feature that highlights active neighborhoods or "areas of interest."
These areas of interest are now shaded light orange are meant to highlight "places where there's a lot of activities and things to do" like popular business districts or neighborhood strips. According to the Google Maps blog, these areas are determined by "an algorithmic process that allows us to highlight the areas with the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops," although some additional human interaction is apparently needed to determine the busiest spots in high-density areas like New York City.
Here's that new feature in action, showing some busy neighborhoods in beautiful, Oakland, California: