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 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.

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.

Microsoft releases massive imagery update for Virtual Earth

virtual-earth-jan09

Virtual Earth has been quiet lately, but Microsoft has just released a TON of new imagery for it.  No new features like Google Earth’s sweet update, and still no new 3D buildings, but the amount of imagery is quite impressive.

New Bird’s Eye imagery in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the UK and a ton of places in the US.  In addition, they’ve added a ton of High Res Othos and Satellite imagery in a wide variety of locations around the world.

Get all the details about this release here.

Huge imagery release for Virtual Earth

Microsoft has rolled out another enormous imagery release for Virtual Earth.  Details can be found here, but the quick version includes:

Orthos

 

  • Spain
  • Japan
Obliques (Bird’s Eye)
  • United States
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Luxembourg
Sadly, once again, there doesn’t appear to be any new 3D buildings.  C’mon Microsoft — those “version 2″ cities are amazing and we want more of them!

Tons of new features in Virtual Earth

To go with the new ClearFlow traffic, Microsoft has just released a slew of new features for Virtual Earth.  They include:

  • Export collections to GPS using KML, GPX and GeoRSS.
  • Improved 3D cities.  Las Vegas, Dallas, Denver and Phoenix are now in “version 2″, which includes higher-res textures, more buildings and even rendered tress.  Other cities will be added/updated as time goes on.
  • Better 3D modeling using 3DVIA.  Microsoft’s answer to SketchUp, 3DVIA, has seen a handful of improvements.
  • Labels for Birds Eye imagery.
  • MapCruncher Integration.  MapCruncher allows you to do overlays in a similar manner to Google Earth.  It’s more complex than needed for simple overlays, but it’s very powerful for large or uneven overlays.  With this release you can add your MapCrunched layers to your Collections, then share them.
  • Capture hi-def movies of your tours, up to 1920×1080.
  • Improved KML display.

For more, check out the full post on the Virtual Earth / Live Maps blog, or read Frank’s write-up on the Google Earth Blog.

Hybrid view coming to Virtual Earth’s Bird’s Eye imagery

Turner Field in Bird’s Eye viewOn April 10, Microsoft plans to release Virtual Earth version 6.1.  Among the enhancements:

  • Enhanced experiences with bird’s eye view in 3D, and new bird’s eye hybrid view.
  • Reverse geocoding for U.S. users.
  • Walking directions for North America and European Union users.
  • Traffic-based driving directions.
  • New cross-browser support.
  • Improved printing support for maps.

That’s quite a bit of good stuff.  While I’ve always been impressed with the rate of imagery added to Virtual Earth, I’ve felt that they’ve been behind Google Earth/Maps in terms of features.  Improvements like this are helping them to narrow that gap.  Many of these are things that Google Maps can already do (cross-browser support, traffic-based directions, etc), but it’s nice to see them continue to catch up.

Bird’s Eye imagery has always been a unique feature that they have, so adding hybrid support to that will be neat to see.

New 3D and Birds Eye data in Virtual Earth

Not quite as big as their last few updates, but this one still has quite a bit.

The list includes:

New/Updated Birds Eye Cities in the US

  • Etowah Co, AL
  • Mobile Co, AL
  • Monterey Co, CA
  • Boulder Co
  • Broomfield Co
  • WashingtonDC.
  • Cobb Co, GA
  • De Kalb Co, GA
  • Muscogee Co, GA
  • Macon Co, IL
  • Will Co, IL
  • Rowan Co, KY
  • Fayette Co, KY
  • Anne Arundel Co, MD
  • Grand Rapids Metro, MI
  • Detroit Metro North, MI
  • Cottonwood Co, MN
  • Buncombe Co, NC
  • Greenville Metro, NC
  • Wilson Co, NC
  • Lancaster Co, NE
  • Strafford Co, NH
  • San Juan Co, NM
  • Binghamton Metro, NY
  • Butler Co, PA
  • Westmoreland Co, PA
  • Greenwood Co, SC
  • Williamson Co, TX
  • Fisher Co, TX
  • Salt Lake City Metro, UT
  • Hampton Metro, VA
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Arlington Co, VA
  • Spokane, WA

Full details can be found on the Virtual Earth / Live Maps blog.