"It's a whole new concept," said Bernhard Seefeld, product management director for Google Maps.
"We believe this is really the biggest change to Google Maps since Google Maps originally launched" in 2005.
While there are several new features baked into the site, the first thing users will notice is the streamlined interface. Upon loading the page, users are presented with a full-screen map and just a single search bar. Gone is the panel on the left-side of the screen with a series of links and buttons.
Seefeld said logged-in users can get a more personalized experience, with reviews and recommendations from friends and family on Google+ overlaid on the map. Clicking on a highlighted restaurant or bar brings up a card with pictures, reviews, hours of operation, and contact numbers.
Users can also view imagery from Google Earth within Google Maps without having to download a plug-in or application.
Google says it has also improved its directions feature, including the implementation of public transit routing.
The new map is currently only available for desktop browsers and won't appear on mobile devices yet.
Google says users who sign up for the new site at http://maps.google.com/help/maps/helloworld/desktop/preview will start getting access in the days ahead.
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