Throwing caution to the wind I made the leap and charged ahead with the update. Before I go on let me mention that I have the most vanilla iPhone out there with no hacks or custom anything (not even ringtones) so the update was a smooth process for me. In and out in under five minutes. Once done and restarted I began to explore what had changed. One of the first things I really wanted to try out was the new maps functionality.
Fortunately, an opportunity put the new Google Maps through its paces presented itself immediately; I had to join my fellow TUAW crew at a Macworld party, but all I had was the address with no idea how to get there. Which direction should I go, and how far? Fortunately, these questions were no match for the iPhone's new maps functionality.
To do this I first clicked on the Google Maps tool on the iPhone and then on the brand new button in the lower left corner of the screen (looks somewhat like a target crosshair) and waited a few moments while my iPhone triangulated my position using nearby cell towers. Impressively, it located my position almost exactly, and displayed it on the screen. Next, I pressed the directions button and in the new window I saw that next to "Start" was "Current Location" -- obviously where I was at the moment -- and below that I entered the address of where I wanted to go.
Once done I pressed the 'Route" button and in about five seconds was presented with a detailed route to my destination complete with a purple line on the map to follow. I admit when I first heard about this feature in the 1.1.3 update I was a bit skeptical about how well it would work. I'm happy to report that, at least in this first-impressions situation, it performed exactly as advertised. Although, I guess I should have expected that from an Apple product. They do seem to pretty much always turn out well.
UPDATE: OK, we fixed the title.