Why does Google Maps change zoom between map/satellite?

I love love love Google Maps to death, but I can’t figure out why it sees fit to change my zoom level when I’m switching from Map to Satellite view. Half the fun, I think, is switching back and forth between the two views so I can see the same places in both views! (Yes, of course I know about hybrid view, but that’s not my preference.)

Is there a logic behind why Google Maps does this? Does anyone else find it annoying?

It doesn’t do that on my Mac. Is it a PC thing?

It may have more zoom available in map mode than satellite. Not all areas of the globe have detailed satellite pictures. So it zooms out to the best it has available when you switch modes.

I never noticed it before, but I tried it just now and you’re right. Must be a bug.

If anyone is interested in reproducing the behavior, go to this spot, switch to 2nd zoom level (2nd highest magnification), and switch to map view. It somehow changes to a lower magnification. (There’s nothing special about that location, it just happens to be the spot I “successfully” reproduced the buggy behavior.)

That would make sense. You can definitely see the difference between the detail levels if you use Google Earth.

Understood, but that’s not the problem - I’m looking in Austin, which has map and satellite views available for all zoom levels.

And Google Maps isn’t that smart anyway; if you zoom all the way in on the middle of nowhere, then switch to satellite view, it’ll zoom out to level 3 or so, but it will still say “Sorry, no image available for this zoom level” or whatever.

The legal zoom levels (the zoom slider positions) are based on Google’s global best available data. The “satellite” view includes some high-resolution city aerial photos, so it has a very high maximum-zoom position, even though most of the globe doesn’t have imagery at that resolution. For whatever reason, Google has given the map view a lower maximum-zoom position (possibly just because street-level maps are not very interesting when you look too closely; possibly their GIS data is not accurate to that resolution and they don’t want to provide misleading maps); when you try to switch from satellite to map view at higher zoom than this, it just resets to the maximum legal value. There are 18 map-zoom levels and 20 image-zoom levels (with the lowest-zoom settings at the same scale), so the two top image-zoom levels will reset to a lower zoom on the map view. For the same reason, “hybrid” view won’t show streets at the two highest zoom levels.

Not exactly, since it allows you to zoom in deeper after the switch. There may be a rule that says whenever you switch to satellite mode match the zoom level, unless you are deeper than 3rd in which case just use 3rd. It would make sense if the majority of data didn’t drill down that deep. It’s a little jarring, and it would be nice if it was smart enough to decide based on the data available, but not a big deal IMO.

I don’t seem to get this behavior, if I’m understanding what you’re saying. For example, I follow scr4’s link, to get a satellite view at the third-from-top zoom; this is zoom level 18 (counting from the bottom). I switch to map view; again it’s at level 18 (now the top zoom level). I can’t zoom in any more in map view. I switch back to satellite view; I’m still at level 18. I zoom in to level 19 (second from top) and switch to map view; this zooms me back to level 18, since that’s the top map level. I switch back to satellite view and I’m still at level 18, since that was the map-zoom level. (You have to count from the bottom; the two views have a different number of available zoom levels.)

In each case map->satellite, the zoom level is always preserved. For satellite->map the zoom level is preserved if possible, and set at maximum-zoom if the satellite zoom level is beyond the maximum map zoom. Is this different behavior from what you see, or do I misunderstand your point?