Color gradations to depict vegetation and labels for natural land formations are also included, Wired reported Friday.
"This enriched visual data allows you to quickly and easily see where the great forests, deserts, and mountain ranges around the world begin and end," Karl Johann Schmidt, Google Maps Software Engineer, wrote the company's Google Maps blog. "It also conveys how natural land formations can impact where, how and why man-made developments like urban cities, dams and bridges are made."
Which region of the globe a user chooses to examine and how far they zoom in determines the amount and level of the terrain detail shows but major geographic features of the Americas and Europe have received the graphical upgrade treatment.
Google has offered an optional "terrain" layer for Google Maps since 2008 but with the latest update the terrain display mode is the default.