Google has announced a major update to Google Maps for desktop. The update adds new features like step-by-step preview, earth tours and real time traffic incident reports. Let's take on each feature individually.

Street View has always been a great way to select and preview destinations. The latest update makes it easier to find which areas on the map have this feature available. Pegman, the street view guide, sits on the lower left corner of the screen and upon clicking on him the areas on the map that support Street View will turn blue. From there you can hover over any highlighted road to get its street-level preview and click on it to dive in.

Currently street views are supported in over 50 countries around the world.

NOTE - Pegman fans can submit their ideas for his next adventure on Google+.

Zoom in a little and you will see blue and yellow circles. While blue circles represent an area with user-uploaded photos, yellow circles let you see inside restaurants, museums and more.

Google has also added step-by-step preview, a feature that provides street-level view of each decision point while on the road. It's a very useful feature, especially when the route is tricky and an advance study of the trip is necessary. Just click "Preview steps" from the directions card to enable it.

Next up is Earth Tours, a feature that takes you to a virtual trip of cities and natural wonders in 3D. It's an amazing feature but requires WebGL-enabled browsers. Make sure you have one.

The updated Google Maps, in addition to traffic indicators, will also show real time traffic incident reports powered by Waze, the social mapping software company that Google acquired in June this year. These reports will be available on both Desktop and mobile.

Google has also released a video tour of the updates.