OT: Google Maps Explanation needed

Will some one explain why Google Maps uses a Mercator projection?
A globe is the only accurate map. Every flat map has some form of error in shape, direction, size, and area. The problem with the Mercator is is only accurate in direction. If you were sailing a ship in the 17th century and wanted to make sure you would sail where you wanted to go it was very useful, but better projections are available today. This came up today when I was looking at this map.

There are a lot of smart folks here so I am expecting at least one of you to give me a reason that make sense other than it is what we all grew up looking at on our schoolrooms’ walls.

The earlier screen space and the bandwidth, the map app started down this road. It is also an older expectation. Plus when driving it is not a distraction that a floating globe would be. Or even a thought to be distortion of a section of land off the a globe.

I am developing a video game that will utilize a globe. It is a later time in the development of tech. My tools can manage it.

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That’s true. But as you zoom in on smaller and smaller areas the errors become smaller too regardless of which projection is being used.


My guess is that Mercator meets the need of its basic design criteria - which I believe to be local navigation. At small scale, out to perhaps a couple hundred miles, the Mercator projection is perfectly fine for driving directions.

Besides, if that projection bothers you, just switch to globe view. Hover over the layers button at the bottom left of your screen shot, select More from the menu that pops out, and click on Globe view.