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.


  1. Perhaps a more direct comparison would be to say that Google makes you download Flash to use Street View and Microsoft makes you download Silverlight to use Streetside.

    By the way, have you heard any rumours as to when Google will be integrating the geotagged User Photos from Panoramio and Picasa Web into Google Earth. They’ve been in Google Maps for a while, so I was very surprised to not find them in Earth.

    Also… the Google Earth plugin has been around for closing in on two years now. When are they going to introduce it as an option in Google Maps, for crying out loud?

    • “Flash vs. Silverlight”
      Fair statement, but Flash has a 97-98% install rate, while Silverlight is only around 50%. For many people, Silverlight would be a new install but Flash would not.

      “Panoramio photos”
      You can find most of them in the layers under “Geographic Web” –> “Panoramio”. Not sure about Picasa Web, though.

      “Plugin in maps”
      I agree. I keep waiting for a button to appear on the main maps site to flip to earth view. Not sure what the holdup is with that.

  2. As far as the Panoramio photos goes, I actually meant geo-aligned or geo-embeded, rather than just geo-tagged. That is to say, I’m looking for the photos to be fully registered in 3D space like the Bird’s Eye Photos in Bing Maps 3D, rather than just plastered flat against the screen, regardless of what angle I have Google Earth tilted at.

    Google is clearly using automatic registration on user photos that have been geotagged to the same area, and one would assume that they have also processed this against their Street View panoramas, so coordinates and orientation should be automatically solved for beyond a user’s (questionable) manual placement of their photo(s) on the map. This is not surprising at all after considering that Noah Snavely and Steve Seitz of the University of Washington’s and Microsoft Research’s collaborative Photo Tourism project spoke at a Google Tech Talk back in 2007 (see ‘Navigating the World’s Photographs’ ) and that Google has since funded further research between UW and MSR (see ‘Building Rome in a Day’ )

    The question is why we see the results of this automatic registration in Google Maps, but not Google Earth.

  3. Something like what I hope to see sooner rather than later in both Bing Maps 3D and in Google Earth can be seen demonstrated by Microsoft Researcher, Bill Chen, in this video from 45:40 to 46:40:
    ( mms:// )

    Note that this feature has never been publicly released, even though it is shown here at the date of 2008 07 29.


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