In April of this year, Google started including Street View with the driving instructions. It was an upgrade that offered a “serious” use for the Street View images.
Since late August, Maps has been undergoing the “blue line” upgrade. It showed up first in the Maps view. And about two weeks ago showed up in the Text view, which is seen when you enter via the Local OneBoxes. It may have been mentioned elsewhere but I also just noticed a significant upgrade to the printed driving instructions as part of the blue line improvements.
Here are part of the driving instructions from Newark Airport to the hotel where I am staying for SMXEast:
The new changes allow the user to select a global view for directions (Text, Map or Street View) as well as those same options for each step of the driving instructions, allowing the user to pick the optimal view for each turn.
While September has been a tough month for Maps with the upgrade, the switch to TeleAtlas and the hijackings, it is these kinds of continual improvements that will ultimately allow them to catch and surpass Mapquest.