Here’s What You Need To Know: Google Rebuilds Its Maps Software From Ground Up [VIDEO + PHOTOS]

A rebuilt desktop experience for Google Maps was one of the major announcements out of the Google I/O Conference, Wednesday.

Google will soon release a new version of Google Maps on the desktop that will feature a redesigned experience (“from the ground up”, executives say) featuring tighter integration with Google Earth and Google Street View, location recommendations, and the capability for maps to adapt to the behavior of individual users.

The full preview of the new Google Maps and the place for you to request an early invite to access the new version can be found here.

Based on a video describing the new features of Google Maps (available below), the experience of using Maps on the desktop will be a much more beautiful one. The search bar for looking for a location will be available in the upper left corner of the map, and as users click on results on the map, the map will automatically update with other nearby points of interest, and will highlight locations — including street names — relevant to the selected location. Users will also be able to select, right on the map, the mode of transportation they plan to use to get to that location (whether it be car, public transit, bicycle, or foot) and Maps will update with options for each mode.

The visuals of the new map experience appear to be much sleeker and more refined as compared to the “old” version of Maps, which isn’t to say by any means that the old version was unusable. One of the best new features seems to be the ability to select a location and see what types of restaurants or other businesses are around the location you select. This is a feature that could be particularly useful for anyone looking for something around a certain street corner, for example. Once locations appear on the map, when you select a location, you’ll automatically — within the map — have access to reviews of the location, as well as the ability to write your own reviews. If you find a location that you would like to mark as one of your favorites, the map will learn from your behavior and become more intelligent the more you use it, adapting to the tastes and preferences of an individual user.

It’s not known when or how fast users will get access to the new version of Maps, so if you’re anxious to get a spot in line, it’s probably best to request an invite sooner rather than later.