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.

New Google Earth imagery/3D, Bing StreetView coming soon

A couple of quick links today:

Imagery update in Google Earth: Just two weeks since their last one, Google has pushed out another imagery update.  It’s not a huge one, but it covers small parts of many countries.

New 3D imagery in Google Earth: Google has started using StreetView imagery in some cities to create lifelike facades in the downtown areas.  The result is stunning.  Check out the video below to see how it looks:

bingvan-223x300Bing “StreetView” coming soon? It looks like Microsoft may be planning to bring a StreetView-like competitor to Bing Maps.  The image on the right (via StreetViewFun) shows a Bing-labeled van driving around Vancouver gathering street-level imagery.

Considering the Winter Olympics start in Vancouver in a few months, I’d expect we’ll see the results of the imagery before then.

New imagery release for Bing Maps

Microsoft has just dropped a nice imagery update on Bing Maps, covering around 180,000 sq. km.  This update is focused heavily in Europe, in the following countries:

  • Bulgaria (1,225 sq. km)
  • Czech Republic (10,808 sq. km)
  • Estonia (1,418 sq. km)
  • Hungary (23,840 sq. km)
  • Latvia (12,763 sq. km)
  • Lithuania (9,681 sq. km)
  • Poland (24,912 sq. km)
  • Romania (24,435 sq. km)
  • Russian Federation (15,636 sq. km)
  • Slovakia (2,018 sq. km)
  • Slovenia (314 sq. km)
  • Switzerland (6,227 sq. km)
  • Turkey (45,443 sq. km)

As usual, there’s no new 3D to be found, but it looks to be a very nice update.  Be sure to check out the Bing Maps World Tour to see the full details.

New StreetView imagery released and some new features for Bing Maps

Google has just released a ton of new StreetView imagery; Mexico, the Netherlands, Hawaii and various other places.  [details: Google Earth Blog]

Bing Maps has added a few nice features. They now have draggable routes and some new navigation features.  Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly solid updates.  [details: Bing search blog]

Big imagery releases for Google Earth and Bing Maps

We’ve seen a couple of big imagery releases in the past few days:

Google Earth has updated various imagery all over the world.  You can read details on the Google Earth Blog, or view this page to see the updated areas via the Google Earth Plug-in.  Here are some neat things that users have already found in the fresh imagery.

Bing Maps has updated imagery in the US, UK and Canada.  In particular, they’ve added a ton of fresh imagery in Vancouver in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics, which begin in February.  You can use the Bing Maps World Tour application to see all of the updated areas.

Bing Maps Imagery Release for August, 2009

Another month, another big imagery release for Bing Maps.  It’s not as large as the last one (101,485 square kilometers, vs. about 189,000 sq. km. in July), but it’s still very substantial.

bing-maps-august-2009

This one covers 23 countries, but only Japan got more than just a smattering of new imagery.  There wasn’t even any in the continental United States, though there is some great new imagery of Mt. McKinley in Alaska.

As always, they’ve pushed out their cool World Tour Application to highlight the updates.  Also, as always, no new 3D buildings.  So sad…

A ghost town from space

Earth is Square has a neat post today about viewing Centralia, Pennsylanvia using fresh Bird’s Eye imagery on Bing Maps.  Centralia was an active town of about 1000 residents back in the early 1980′s, but now is home to only nine people.  The reason is due to an underground coal fire that’s been burning since the 60′s, and will continue burning for as many as 250 more years.

In 1984, congress provided $42 million to relocate residents out of town.  Once gone, most of the buildings were demolished.  A recent episode of Life After People (an excellent series on the History Channel) featured Centralia as an example of what happens 25 years after humans leave a city (building decay, etc).

I was hoping that Google’s Historical Imagery feature would show aerial footage from a time when the city was populated, but it only goes back to 1993.   Below are some before and after photos.  Check it out on Google Maps (with StreetView imagery) or Bing Maps to explore further.

centralia-beforeBefore the evacuation

centralia-beforeafterThen and now

centralia-ge-1993Centralia 1993, as seen in Google Earth using the Historical Imagery slider

centralia-bingCentralia today, in Bing Maps Bird’s Eye

centralia-streetviewCentralia today, in Google Maps Street View.  The fog makes it even creepier.

Bing Maps Imagery Update for July

ImageryJuly2009gHot on the heels of Google’s latest imagery update, we have a huge imagery update from Bing Maps (via James Fee). This update includes 41TB of raw imagery, covering 189,000 sq. km., and about 12,000 sq. km. of Bird’s Eye imagery.

One of the neat things that Microsoft does with each release is post a “World Tour” that highlights all of the changes across the globe.   However, despite all of the updates, we still don’t have any new 3D buildings.  I simply don’t understand that, and I’ve not been able to get any answers from Microsoft — but I’ll keep trying.  Their 3D cities are amazing, with 100,000+ buildings and a ton of 3D trees, but they haven’t updated them in over a year.

Still, this is an excellent update and gives you a lot of more data to play with!

Update: Google provides an update file as well, in the form of a KML file that shows all of the updated areas.

May imagery update for Bing Maps

The first big update under the name “Bing Maps” (formerly “Live Maps” / “Virtual Earth”) and it’s a big one.  They’ve added a ton of new imagery, but they’re showing it in a new way.  Rather than posting a giant list of updated cities/countries, they’ve released a Bing Maps World Tour that walks you through the update.  It sounds like kind of a strange way to show the updates, but it works quite well.

bing-maps-world-tourIt takes you to a view of the entire planet with blue dots on the updated areas (see image on right).  You can choose to have it fly you to each area automatically, or just browse around yourself.

You can get more info from the Bing Maps blog, or see the list below for a normal list of updated countries.

Country

SQ.KM.

Canada

9,700

Argentina

2,243

Australia

11,560

Bahamas

2,201

Bolivia

11,918

Brazil

10,905

Chile

779

China

3,570

Cook Islands

861

Costa Rica

1,286

Dominican Republic

1,414

Ethiopia

6,662

Fiji

329

France

10,165

Gambia

694

Greece

5,845

Guinea-Bissau

2,005

India

22,754

Ireland

626

Kiribati

9,905

Korea, Republic of

edfa13,164

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

1,418

Malaysia

2,386

Maldives

11,266

Marshall Islands

9,025

Mexico

4,811

Micronesia, Federated States of

5,822

Myanmar

1,324

Namibia

4,733

New Zealand

3,328

Poland

6,209

Russian Federation

3,352

Sierra Leone

496

Solomon Islands

2,181

Somalia

182

South Africa

2,784

Sri Lanka

7,600

Tanzania, United Republic of

1,441

Tonga

256

Turkey

4,373

Tuvalu

1,359

Ukraine

610

United States

42,679

Venezuela

2,097

Romania

591

Grand Total

248,909

Virtual Earth / Live Maps being rebranded to Bing

As you’ve likely heard, Microsoft has unveiled it’s new Bing search engine.  As part of that rebranding process, other Microsoft applications are getting renamed.  Of particular interest to us are the new names for their mapping products.

Live Search Maps will now be simply called “Bing Maps”, and the Virtual Earth platform will now be known as “Bing Maps for Enterprise”.  Much more about this can be found on Chris Pendleton’s blog or by watching the video below.