I’m currently playing around with the closed beta version of google maps and to make it short: I like it. It’s not something completely new – if you’re used to the current interface, you won’t have any problems with the new one. But it’s much cleaner and easier to use.
One quick example: if you’re looking for a hotel near a position of choice, simply go to the location and type in “hotel” in the search field. That’s nothing new, but the updated version does not simply give you a list of all the hotels in the area, but simply highlights all hotels on the map. See the screenshot in this post.
Another detail I like: getting directions is easier. Click on the point you wan’t to go to and than simply on your home location. Google will show you the distance and time even before, the click but will then immediately show you the directions. Google will also take care of the decision if you should drive or walk.