Willem Van Lancker User Experience & Visual designer at Google wrote "In June we launched the start of a comprehensive visual redesign for Google Maps founded on three key principles: focus, elasticity, and effortlessness." .
He announced "This week we’re continuing to implement that philosophy by improving and evolving a few key features." .
One key element that Google has redesigned is the very recognizable map pin. It's a slight redesign using a softer color for the edges giving the maps a lighter and warmer tone while still making all of the elements stand out from each other.
The navigation and other control buttons have been redesigned as well. It's a good change since the design of those elements really clashed with the rest of the site.
You'll notice that the buttons for changing between the various types of maps, Satellite, as well as for enabling the different layers are now subtler and more in tone with the overall design.
The navigation buttons for moving about the map zooming in and out or enabling Street View have seen the same transformation. Another minor but welcome change is the switch to buttons for the Get Directions and My Maps features. This trend of replacing links with buttons for several elements is part of the grand redesign Google is undergoing.
The changes are already live on Google Maps so you can check them out by yourself. Google says more changes are coming since there are still elements that need to be updated and probably some of the new ones will get tweaked in the coming weeks and months.