The Google Maps team has released a new experimental version of Maps, complete with 3D buildings, smooth transitions between views, and more.
The new version of Maps, called MapsGL, uses WebGL technology in the latest browsers (all modern versions of Google Chrome as well as Firefox 8 and above) to create a smoother Maps experience. The sweeping transitions between map view and street view are pretty cool, as are the smoother motions when you drag around the map. The coolest part, though, is the addition of 3D buildings to many towns and cities. Not only do they look awesome, but it’s helpful to know where actual buildings are on a street without having to enter street view.
Your system does need to meet some minimum specs to work (MapsGL will tell you whether it meets them or not), so if you’re on a netbook or low-powered laptop like a MacBook Air it may not work for right now. Head to the link below and hit the “Want to Try Something New?” button to get started, or check out the video above for a demonstration.