As of today, the desktop website for Google Maps is getting a pretty decent overhaul. While casual users are unlikely to notice much of a difference, a bit of digging unearths a few fun new features. After playing around with the product, here are my five favorite new features:
1) Map Routes By Air Or Train
If you’re curious how much time is saved by buying a ticket instead of hitching a ride, the new Maps lets you pick air or train travel as a routing option. Closing the loop, Google also provides an option for users to buy tickets, directly from the site.
2) Skyscrapers Are Now 3D
Go ahead and zoom into a dense downtown area such as those in New York or Chicago: Those skyscrapers now have an extra dimension, and appear as 3D renderings with perspective points that shift as you move the map.
3) Event Listings
If you search for a venue, Google now gives you an “Upcoming Events” link. Great for saving clicks (and reducing the need to open extra tabs).
4) Smarter Traffic
This is a biggie: In addition to showing realtime traffic (along with related incidents and reports), Google Maps now lets you see what predicted traffic levels will be at any given time, allowing you to better plan your trips in advance.
5) Use Street View To Preview Your Route
Suppose you’re in an unfamiliar city and want to see what each turn looks like from the street, before you hit the road. Google Maps now lets you preview your routes, with sequential Street View-provided looks at what each turn looks like.