Google has given Street View a major new look.
One big change: to activate the Google Maps feature, you drag the "Pegman" character off the top of the zoom slider and drop him where you want to see. It's a lot faster than enabling Street View through a drop-down then clicking where you want to go.
Next, the view itself is larger, filling the whole screen instead of just a window. The higher resolution lets you zoom in more closely. And it works: one trouble spot I use for reference--a dark restaurant sign near my house that I once couldn't read with Street View when trying to give a friend directions--now is visible.
In the lower-right corner of the Street View, there's now a mini-map, and clicking on its upper-left corner zooms the map into a nifty split-screen view with the map below and Street View above.
Well done except for one thing: with either the mini-map or the split screen, the Street View goes black on me when I'm using the latest version of Chrome, 0.4.154.25. (See screenshots below for what it looks like initially and after breaking.) It works fine in Firefox 3.1 beta 1. Is it just me? Comment below if you're seeing problems.
Also, I don't know if this is new, but I just discovered keyboard shortcuts (one of my all-time favorite things). You can pan the view left and right with the A and D keys and tilt up and down with W and S.
For details--and a miniature Pegman gallery that shows various holiday-themed Easter eggs--check Google's Lat-Long blog post from programmer Stephane Lafon and user experience designer Andy Szybalski on Tuesday.