[Editor's note: Google takes a page from CloudMade's book and now allows Maps API users to style the default map data, up to a limit. Demos at the Google link below, with live style editor with preview. Lots of opportunity to style the maps, kinda. The font still tips off the user it's Google map. Tiles are generated on the fly for the user on the Google servers, just as if the user was calling regular tiles. Dig in!]
Republished from Google Geo.
Google Maps are instantly familiar to millions of Internet users worldwide. The user interface and the look and feel of our maps combine to ensure that when a user sees a Google map on any web site, they instantly know how to interact with that map, and find their way around.
There is however an unavoidable consequence of this consistency. No matter which Maps API site you are on, every map looks the same. If you want your map to stand out from the crowd, your options are limited to customizing the markers and controls, and if your brand has a particular colour scheme that is reflected on your site, Google Maps may not sit well with it.
From today, this all changes. You are now free to unleash your creativity on the base Google map itself, as we are delighted to launch Styled Maps in the Google Maps API v3.
Styled Maps offers you control over both the types of features shown on your maps, and the color scheme used to represent them. The possibilities are endless, as the examples below show…