Check out the new Google Maps

The new Google Maps is now available via invite. Which you can request.

Sounds familiar, eh?

Lucky me, I got my invite and took it for a spin.

The first thing you’ll notice if you open it in Safari is probably that you have to use it in “Lite” mode, which doesn’t include 3D. Boo. You can enable WebGL in Safari, or just open it in Chrome, which is no doubt Google’s preference.

Uh huh. Why am I not surprised? At this point every time Google asks me to sigh into something I just feel icky. This is probably the main reason that I won’t be using Google Maps, no matter how funky it looks.

One of the features you’ll immediately notice when you search for something are the arbitrarily chosen mini-blurbs that appear below each result on the map. Some of these were unintentionally quite amusing. “Worst service avocado salad” and “pork belly wrapped quail eggs” were my favorites when I searched for Sushi restaurants.

Good old info cards. They’re everywhere now. Really just a prettier way of displaying extant information, as far as I can make out.

Aha! Where else have we seen melty bridges? AHA! Remember this?!

This is a nice feature. It’s getting less and less necessary to actually go anywhere. Soon you’ll be able to experience almost everything from your Cheeto-encrusted basement couch!

The biggest new feature, displayed in stunning “3D”. Replay a halting, blurry version of your childhood Spiderman dreams in any major city in America!

It’s a tough task for Google to get anyone excited about this, an update to an already extensive service. The new design is fine, not spectacular. Most of the new features aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. The bonus here is that they’re all combined here in one package.

Another leap for Google in the big leapfrog game of maps.