The new Google Maps has been making its way onto desktops around the world just as they said it would. Following a preview campaign by many members of the public that has been running since May last year, the search engine giant is extending availability with high hopes for its new version.

In a blog last month, VP of Google Maps, Brian McClendon, wrote that it is now even easier to plan your next trip, check live traffic conditions, discover what’s happening around town, and learn about a new area.

So here is a quick refresher on what to expect in the new Google Maps. McClendon listed the improvements as follows:

[themecolor]Make smarter decisions.[/themecolor] Simply search for “coffee” in your immediate area, and you’ll be able to see results and snippets right on the map. When you click on a cafe, the map will suggest related results that you may not have known about. Some may also be happy to know this features works for pubs and winebars.

[themecolor]Get where you’re going, faster.[/themecolor] Car? Bike? Train? Find the most efficient route for you, with your best options laid out on the map, including the time and distance for each route. And with the new real-time traffic reports and Street View previews, you’ll become a commuting ninja.

[themecolor]See the world from every angle.[/themecolor] Rich imagery takes you to notable landmarks, sends you flying above mountains in 3D, and gives you a sneak peek of businesses you plan to visit. The new “carousel” at the bottom of the map makes all this imagery easy to access, so you can explore the world with a click.

To the relief of many users, the new version of Google Maps has also reinstated Pegman after a brief disappearance. As with old Google Maps, this small orange character can be dragged onto a map to bring up the Street View.

McClendon warned that, as with any product upgrade, there may be some ‘bumps in the road’ and he invited user reaction and comment.