Microsoft now deblurring imagery in Bing Maps

A few years, Microsoft Research developed a method to deblur images captured from a camera.  While it was intended for consumer photography, they’re now using it to help improve the image quality in Bing Maps.

Anything to help improve aerial image quality is a good thing, and this appears to make a noticeable difference in the image quality.

(via SlashGear)

Some updates from Bing Maps

Over the weekend, Bing Maps launched a new application in partnership with National Geographic called Global Action Atlas. The new application allows people to peer into areas where our planet needs help. The actionable themes include Conservation, Humanitarian Affairs, Cultures, Exploration, Climate Change and Energy. For example, if you click on the Animal and Plants icon in the Pacific NW region, Global Action Atlas will provide an overview of Bird Protection in the Northwest, specifically focused on the spotted owl, and provide a call to action for people wanting to help.

More info can be found on the Bing Maps blog.

In addition, they’ve just released another nice-sized batch of imagery.  It totals 194,000 sq km and covers various locations in New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Namibia, Russian Federation and South Africa.  More about the update can be found here.

Bing Maps adds Worldwide Telescope

Last month, we showed you that amazing video of Blaise Aguera y Arcas showing off some new and upcoming features of Bing Maps.  One of those was the integration of Worldwide Telescope, which is now available.

To try it out for yourself:

  • Go to: www.bing.com/maps/explore
  • Click on Map Apps (bottom of the left-hand rail, below the explore section)
  • Select the WorldWide Telescope App

It’s nothing groundbreaking (we’ve seen both products before), but it’s solid and logical integration that helps make both of them more useful.

Massive update to Bing Maps

Microsoft has just released their largest update ever to Bing Maps, with more than 6.7M sq. kilometers of fresh imagery.

They added a ton of new imagery in the Russian Federation, Australia, Mexico and many places in the United States.  They also added a lot of new Bird’s Eye imagery in Sweden.  Check out their Bing Maps World Tour to see the highlights.

The full list of updates:

Aerial
Australia 524,645 sq. km.
Botswana 61,433 sq. km.
Estonia 618 sq. km.
Hungary 3,369 sq. km.
Mexico 236,624 sq. km.
Morocco 13,303 sq. km.
Namibia 72,162 sq. km.
New Zealand 14,987 sq. km.
Poland 6,254 sq. km.
Romania 3,695 sq. km.
Russian Federation 553,244 sq. km.
South Africa 123,138 sq. km.
Turkey 16,148 sq. km.
United Kingdom 15,221 sq. km.
United States 4,961,758 sq. km.

Oblique (Bird’s Eye)
Austria 238 sq. km.
Belgium 898 sq. km.
Denmark 718 sq. km.
Finland 1,634 sq. km.
France 2,001 sq. km.
Greece 931 sq. km.
Ireland 1,340 sq. km.
Netherlands 1,709 sq. km.
Norway 2,425 sq. km.
Portugal 2,184 sq. km.
Romania 1,534 sq. km.
Spain 5,143 sq. km.
Sweden 6,747 sq. km.
Switzerland 424 sq. km.
United Kingdom 13,094 sq. km.
United States 56,007 sq. km.

It’s quite impressive!  Time to start digging around see what kind of fun stuff I can find in there.

Amazing video of Bing Maps at TED

Blaise Aguera y Arcas recently shared some new Bing Maps features with the audience at TED, and he showed off some amazing stuff. The way that Flickr images (and even video) are incorporated into the StreetSide imagery using PhotoSynth technology was stunning, as was some other features.

This eight-minute video is absolutely worth the time to watch it.

More aerial views; National Geographic app; Google Maps for the indoors

A few cool things to point you toward today:

More Cities get “Aerial View” in Google Maps — Portland, OR and Sacramento and Oakland, CA all have new “bird’s eye” imagery from Google.

National Geographic launches iPhone app — It allows a variety of mapping sources, styles and other cool stuff.

Micello Launches “Google Maps for the Indoors” — This thing could be very cool if they can expand their coverage.  They have “over 250″ maps so far, but none on the eastern half of the US.

Bing leaves beta, adds lots of data

Lots of big stuff happening with Bing Maps lately…

Vancouver and Whistler added to StreetSide: Good timing for both of this, with the Winter Olympics getting ready to start.

Two big imagery releases: 274K sq/km on January 5, and another 558K sq/km yesterday.  Even better, yesterday’s release was apparently just part 1 of 2, so more is coming soon.

Bing Maps is no longer “beta”: The Silverlight version of Bing Maps is slowly being rolled out as the default.  It’s starting in the US with just a few people, and slowing rolling out to everyone in the next few weeks.  We talked about this version when it first entered beta, and it’s really quite solid.

Of course, Google has been adding a ton of new stuff lately, and I’ll try to round it all up soon.  In the meantime, just check out the Google Earth Blog to stay updated.

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.

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. :)