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?

MapQuest adds more new (old) features

As their lead over Google Maps continues to dwindle, MapQuest has rolled out a few more new features.  By “new”, I mean new to MapQuest, not new to online mapping.

In this case, the new feature is draggable route changing.  This is almost identical to the feature that Google released about 16 months ago.

It’s a good move by MapQuest.  Before they can really try to innovate, they need to catch up first.  This is another step toward that goal.  I still think they’re toast in the long run, but it’s nice to see them continue to work hard to get caught back up.

MapQuest 4 Mobile now available for Blackberry

MapQuest has just launched the beta of MapQuest 4 Mobile for a few Blackberry handsets.  It looks very much like all of MapQuest’s other recent launches — very nice, but nothing new.

Some of the features include things like “maps” (including aerial imagery), “directions”, “search”, “traffic” and “find me” (to track you along a route.  Certainly nice features for a handset, but nothing new.

Still, if you have a Blackberry it’s probably worth giving it a shot.  It’s currently compatible with the BlackBerry 8830 on Sprint and the Blackberry 8800, 8820 and 8310 on AT&T.  Of course, “support for additional handsets is coming soon.”  To get it, simply point your phone to www.mq4m.com to get started.

MapQuest is trying hard to hold on

Despite being far behind in features, MapQuest has been remarkably resilient in holding onto their market share.  Google Maps continues to catch up, but is still below half of the market share that MapQuest is holding.

However, MapQuest continues to try to catch back up.  Today they’ve released a new beta version of their site, and it’s certainly a step forward.  The biggest change is that they’ve put a map directly on the home page, rather than forcing you to search or get directions.  The map includes some useful layers (gas prices, traffic) and seems pretty solid.

Another nice change is the option of “copy and paste” address input.  Rather than having to put each element in a separate field (address, city, state, zip), you can drop them in a single box (just like you already could on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft).

Maybe we can chalk it up to being beta, but even the basic map usage still lags behind the others.  There are two basic functions that are missing:

  1. I can’t use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out.
  2. The zooms are hard breaks, rather than the smoother zoom used by Google and Microsoft.

As we’ve said before, it’s great to see them trying to catch back up.  Is it too little, too late?  Or will these kinds of steps be enough to hold onto their audience?  They promise many more upgrades in coming months, so we’ll see what happens.

MapQuest keeps trying, but still can’t get it quite right

I’ve been quick to give MapQuest credit for effort, as they’re really trying to catch up the big boys now that their lead is quickly shrinking.

Yesterday they introduced live traffic. It looks very similar to the traffic info on Google Maps, but with more detailed information. The screenshots look pretty nice:

MapQuest Traffic: MiamiMapQuest Traffic: Miami

Here’s the problem — it didn’t work right away. I refreshed and reloaded and zoomed around for a while before I could make the “Traffic” checkbox appear. I later found another page on their site that gives more information about this feature. I thought I might find the answer there, but instead I found this:

Traffic List to Come

Fortunately, they mark the traffic-enabled cities with a traffic light, in a virtually identical manner as Google. A quick glance seems to show that they have more cities than Google, but not by a wide margin.

The real test, of course, is who gives better data? Here is a side-by-side shot of Atlanta using Google Maps and MapQuest:

Google Maps vs. MapQuest for Atlanta traffic

Assuming their data is accurate, the clear winner appears to be MapQuest. Google has much of the highway in gray (“no data”), while MapQuest is showing data for everything. In addition, MapQuest has the clickable icons so you know exactly what the problem is.

For me, however, 95% of my Google Maps traffic usage is from my cell phone while I’m on the road — Google Maps Mobile is very useful. As far as I know, MapQuest has nothing to compare to that. With that in mind, Google Maps will still be the winner by default for when I’m on the road, but I might give MapQuest a try next time I check traffic info from the house.

Edit 10:08pm, 3/18/08 – MapQuest does have a mobile product to compare to Google Maps Mobile, and it’s called MapQuest Navigator.  It appears to be a little better than GMM, but it costs $50/year and works on a rather small selection of phones.

MapQuest is trying to catch back up

MapQuest LogoIt’ll be a hard road (if not impossible) for MapQuest to try to catch up to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in the maps race, but they’re doing their best.

I guess I should say what I mean by “catch up”.  In terms of usage, they still have a remarkable lead.  In January they still had just over 50% of US visits, with Google in second place at 22%.  Given how crappy their system has been when compared to the others, those are some staggering numbers.  Branding goes a long way…

Despite the great numbers, Google is quickly gaining ground.  MapQuest knows they have to do something or they’ll be dead before too long.  As part of that, they’ve just released “MapQuest Platform“.  It sounds pretty slick:

  • Support for a wide variety of programming languages including Java, C++, .NET, JavaScript, Adobe ActionScript.
  • Aerial/hybrid views
  • Smart rollovers, that move and resize as necessary based on the content in the window.
  • Smooth zoom
  • Flickable maps that continue to pan, similar to Google Earth
  • Shape ovelays
  • Geocoding
  • A variety of other things

All in all, it’s a very nice upgrade.  However, it still falls far short of the power of any other other three platforms.  As a developer, I have absolutely no interest in using them for building a mashup, as Google already handles it far better and I’m already more familiar with their tools.

That being said, MapQuest has to do something, and this is certainly a move in the right direction.