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Google Maps adds Waze traffic data to the desktop, brings back Pegman

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The dramatic overhaul of Google Maps on the desktop saw the world lose a good friend. That friend: Pegman. The tiny yellow avatar that you could drop almost anywhere to get instant access to Street View disappeared. Instead, the ground level perspective was accessed by first clicking on a point on the map, then selecting Street View from the pop over in the upper left-hand corner. Clearly, that's much less convenient. Thankfully, Pegman is making a grand return with the latest update to Google Maps on the desktop. Additionally, that Waze acquisition is continuing to pay dividends. The company's traffic data is finally coming to the desktop site, after being added to the Android and iOS mobile apps back in August. You'll be able to see areas of congestion and even spot incidents like accidents that bring your commute to standstill. Slowly but surely the new Google Maps is reaching feature parity with it's predecessor, thanks to constant updates like these.

Maps isn't just about navigation, however. Google also sees it as a tool for exploration and education. That's why it's pushing a new feature called Earth Tours, that brings 3D bird's-eye imagery of particular locals to WebGL-enabled browsers. Now you can fly around Boston or the Alps, just like you would in Google Earth, but without the need to install another piece of software. You can check out a tour of the new Google Maps after the break.

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