Changes to Google Maps: Helicopter view, modified pin

Google continues to refine its Maps feature, recently announcing an aesthetic update as well as some more advanced directional features.

The company's Lat-Long blog reports that one of those features is Helicopter View, which provides users who have Google Earth installed on their computer with a helicopter fly-over of their route.

Users can click on the new "3D" play button, which will switch the map to Earth view and automatically start flying over a previously defined route.

Search Engine Watch reports that step-by-step directions will remain visible on the left-hand column, with different legs becoming highlighted as the voyage takes place. Users can also switch back to a 2D view if they desire.

In addition to the fly-over feature, Maps now has an updated pin with a lighter border, more natural placement and design for "on-map controls" and Google has made the Directions and My Places buttons more prominent.

Lastly, the new My Location feature deploys geolocation technology to determine a user's physical location to make it a starting or ending point for directions. These settings can be saved, so people who frequent certain stores or businesses can immediately pull their addresses up for future trips.