Bing releases iPhone app with nice Maps implementation

Microsoft just released the “Bing” application for iPhone and it is a solid effort.  It was voice search that is similar to the Google app, and Maps implementation that is similar to Google Maps on the phone.

It’s a free app, so it’s certainly worth downloading and trying out.  Chris Pendleton has a nice writeup of it on the Bing Community blog, where he highlights some the new features on it.  Most of the features are similar to the pre-installed Google Maps, but the voice search in Bing Maps is a slick feature that Google Maps doesn’t have.  The rest of the features are almost identical to the Google Maps app.

So which should you use? It depends what you do with it.  In my case, I typically use it for real-time traffic.  I’ll occasionally do a search on it, but usually just want to see which which interstate I should avoid.  Below is a side-by-side look at the two apps showing real-time traffic around Atlanta.  Google Maps is on the left, Bing on the right:

iphone-maps

It’s not even close!  Bing has all kinds of shading and blurring, which looks very nice, but makes it a pain to see what the colors are.  Is that a yellow, or the road color?  Is that orange in there?  It’s quite a mess.

Google’s may look more childish, but it’s far easier to see.  If I want a quick look at the traffic, I’ve got it.

The Bing app is pretty great, and overall I’m very impressed with it.  However, I’ll keep using Google Maps (for now), simply because it does a better job for what I need.

MapQuest launches its own StreetView clone: “360 View”

Less than two weeks after Microsoft launched “Streetside” imagery to compete with Google’s StreetView, MapQuest has done the same.  They call it “360 View”, and it’s remarkably similar to Microsoft and Google’s offerings.

Like many of the “new” features on MapQuest lately, it’s far behind what Google has already done, and it’s not nearly as good.  Not only is their coverage area a fraction of what Google has done, but the quality of the imagery doesn’t seem to be as sharp.  It’s not horrible, but it’s a bit disappointing.

They cover approximately 45 cities in the United States, though the depth of coverage is rather shallow.  I’d expect that to improve over time.

Check it out by visiting MapQuest.com, then clicking the blue “360 View” icon in the upper-right corner of the map.  You’ll want to zoom out pretty far to find the available cities.

(via Mapperz)

Bing to take over MapQuest? It’s possible.

An article over on Screenwerk today seems to think that Microsoft may start powering the engine behind MapQuest, similar to how they power the search results for Yahoo.

It would make a lot of sense.  Tons of people still use MapQuest, but the technology is getting rather stale.  Putting Bing’s power behind all of those MapQuest eyeballs would be a win for both companies, and it would create a better experience for the end user.

Of course, this is all just speculation at this point, simply because it seems so logical.  Do you think it’ll happen? Should it happen?

Microsoft teams with Navteq to expand their Streetside coverage

When Microsoft launched Streetside a few days ago (a direct competitor to Google’s StreetView), I wondered how they could possibly catch up with the huge amount of coverage that Google already has in place.  Their answer: Navteq.

Navteq has vehicles on the road all the time, collecting road data (speed limits, bridge heights, etc).  Microsoft plans to “strap a few cameras on their vehicles to record some photos”.  It certainly seems like a great way to start playing catch-up.  I still imagine it’ll be quite a while until they have anywhere close to as much imagery as Google, but this gives them a solid plan to start gaining some ground.

They also revealed that they’ll be doing monthly releases of new Streetside imagery, similar to their monthly aerial/satellite releases.  Those releases tend to be rather impressive is their coverage, so we’ll see if their Streetside releases can match that.

Like most of these kinds of battles, the winner will be you.  Both companies will work hard to add better features and greater coverage, and we get to reap the benefits.  Kinda nice. :)

Bing Maps launches a ton of new features

Microsoft has been playing catch-up to Google in the mapping world for a while.  Most of their “new” features are things that Google has had for a while.  Today they caught up with a few more, and even surpassed Google with a few of them.

You can read the full list of new items on the Bing Maps Blog, or get TechCrunch’s take on it.  However you look it, though, it’s a pretty sweet upgrade.  Here’s some of the highlights:

Silverlight Required: While Microsoft obviously trumps this as a positive thing, I’m not a convinced that forcing users to download a new piece of software is a great thing to have.  Of course, Google makes you download the entire Google Earth package, so I guess it’s fair.

Streetside vs. StreetView: An almost identical replica of Google’s StreetView, but with far less coverage.  It does some neat things to smooth the transitions between frames, but it’s very similar.

Enhanced Bird’s Eye: They’ve tweaked the Bird’s Eye view to show 3D models in with the imagery.  It’s a somewhat odd effect, but it works really well.  Bird’s Eye is the one big thing they’ve had over Google for the past few years, so it’s understandable that they’d try to extend that lead.

Photosynth: They’ve brought photosynth right into Bing Maps, with pretty nice integration.

They’ve added a lot of other neat things, but those are the ones that jumped out at me.  As Chris Pendleton says at the end of his postI’d say at the very least things in the online mapping world just got a little more interesting wouldn’t you say?“.

I agree.