While there probably won’t be any big hardware announcements from Google today, here’s one thing we can expect: a newer, more fabulous version of Google Maps.
A signup page for the new Maps briefly popped up last night, and Droid Life got a peek at it before Google took it down. Here’s the scoop.
Core to what Google is pushing with the new version of Maps is an experience that’s tailored to how you use it. As Google says, “The more you use the New Google Maps, the more helpful it becomes.” In all, Google seems to be positioning the new Maps as an alternative to Foursquare’s Explore feature, which probably isn’t good news for Foursquare.
The new Google Maps also combines features from Google Earth, flight search (which also offers ticket prices), and information for other forms of transportation, which it can combine and compare to help you find the best route.
Another neat improvement comes from Google Earth’s 3D map viewing. Unlike with the current version, the new Google Maps won’t require you to install a plug-in to use Google Earth — which should make this work better. The one drawback: The improvements to the Google Earth functionality only work with browsers compatible with the WebGL rendering engine, which means Internet Explorer users are out of luck for the time being.
Overall, the new Google Maps looks like a much cleaner, powerful version of the service. Let’s hope Google sheds more details on the update later today.