Autodesk has just posted some videos about what will be available in the Maya 2016 Extension 1 release. In the first one Kamal Mistry, Senior Product Manager for Maya, gives you a quick overview of the things added such as a new 3D Type tool and additional shading nodes in the Hypershade.
Improvements have also been made to the Vector Graphics workflow between Maya and Illustrator, making it easier to move artwork from 2D into 3D. Keep scrolling for more detailed demo videos of these things.
After user complaints about the text tool not being the best, a new and slicker 3D type tool has been added. It has great font support and gives you full control over the 3D text with extrusions and bevels. The new 3D Type tool makes it easier to create things like animated title sequences and flying logos within Maya's 3D environment, by giving you a higher level of control than what was available before with the old text tool.
Several new nodes have been added to the Hypershade in Maya 2016, such as noise, math, layering and utility nodes, which will help you make more sophisticated shaders. An example is the new simplex noise node, which is free from tiling artifacts that would come with legacy nodes such as the fractal. It can also do cellular patterns which can be used for things like leather and skin, as well as ridged patterns which is useful for cracks in terrain. This node can be distorted and used to build complex shading networks, and samples really cleanly in mental ray.
Full SVG support is now available, where Maya will generate 3D geometry directly based on Adobe Illustrator Vector Graphics files. By using a copy and paste workflow you can easily move between Maya and Illustrator, refining your artwork in 2D as needed and then pasting the results into Maya for updates without losing the line work done on the original SVG object. The 3D geometry can easily be animated with deformers in Maya, and shaders are generated based on the color information brought in from Illustrator.