Google Maps underwent some user interface changes today. The controls on the right-hand side now look cleaner and there is an easier way to enter Street View, Google Maps’ optional view that allows you to explore a location through real photos taken at street level.

In cities where Street View is available, you’ll see a male icon illuminated orange on the right side controls. This is what Google refers to as “Pegman.” Clicking on him will transfer you to Street View, which will take up the entire maps portion of the screen. Or you can click and drag Pegman to any area where Street View is available to easily see the view for a particular street or area.

To get back to the regular map view you simply click on the Pegman icon again. You can also split your screen between maps and Street View by selecting the “expand” arrows on the mini map in the lower right corner of Street View.

I guess we’re officially beyond the days where privacy hounds would dog Google about these street view photographs. Either that, or Google just doesn’t care anymore and wants to emphasize a cool product. It also recently launched Street View in the latest version of Maps on the iPhone.

Google has a blog post about the changes as well as a silly video (embedded below) narrated by Pegman.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0y-q-pI2pQ&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1&w=425&h=344]