Google Maps gets big update, adding Earth Tours, Waze, and more

Googlers’ work on Maps never ceases, with the team behind the tool pushing out a sizable update for the desktop version on Wednesday.

First and foremost, Pegman is back, though he’s been shifted from the top left of the screen to the bottom right. If you didn’t realize, Pegman is the little fella you drag to a point of interest on a map if you’re interested in viewing it via Street View.pegman

Pegman still operates on the classic version of Maps, but until now was absent from the all-new version which Google first showed off at its I/O event in May.

Before Pegman, Street View was a bit fiddly in Google’s revamped Maps offering, with users having to click on a road on the Map in the hope that Street View data was available. Now, when you drag Pegman across the map, areas with Street View imagery light up in blue, just as it does with classic Maps.

Other features brought over from the old version include the ability to see locations for which user-submitted images are available for viewing. Kelvin Ho, Google Maps product manager, explains in a blog post: “As you zoom in, you’ll also see blue circles indicating where you can find user-uploaded photos, including Photo Spheres – immersive, 360-degree panoramas taken from land, air, and sea.

“Click on a yellow circle to see inside restaurants, museums, and more. With these features, you can explore an increasing variety of locations, inside and out.”

The update also introduces Google Earth’s Tour Guide feature, on Maps called Earth Tours, which lets you explore cityscapes and landscapes through a virtual fly-around from high up. The tours can be accessed from the carousel at the bottom of the screen.

google maps update earth tour

Google Maps’ new Earth Tours feature.

 Traffic data from Waze – the socially sourced navigation app the Mountain View company acquired back in June – is now integrated with the desktop version of Maps, allowing users to benefit from real-time incident reports, and other information about things like road closures and construction areas. Waze’s data has been showing up in the mobile versions of Maps since August.

More navigation-related goodness comes in the form of a new step-by-step preview feature that offers a street-level snapshot of each decision point along your proposed route to give you a better idea of where you’re going and what to expect in terms of intersection layout and so on. To get started, click ‘preview steps’ from the directions card and from there you can explore your planned journey.

For a brief overview of the new features, check out Google’s video below.

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