Amazing new photo tours in Google Maps

Google has just added a great new feature to Google Maps called “photo tours”, which feels a lot like Microsoft’s PhotoSynth but taken to a whole new level. Here’s a video showing how they work:

To try them for yourself, check out a famous site such as Trevi Fountain or St. Mark’s Basilica.  To learn more about how these tours were created you can read this entry on the Google Lat Long Blog.

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.

Microsoft Integrates Photosynth into Virtual Earth

photosynth-logoThis could be pretty cool.  Microsoft’s remarkable Photosynth software now is playing nicely with Virtual Earth.  From their press release:

Photosynth software analyzes digital photographs and generates a 3-D model by “stitching” the photos together. These models, or “synths,” can now be viewed using Silverlight technology across multiple platforms. Virtual Earth brings together features, functionality and content that help consumers, businesses, citizens and governments bring location to life. It helps businesses and governments share location-based information, build better connections with consumers or citizens, and helps organizations make better operational decisions. With the integration of Photosynth into Virtual Earth customers will be able to create detailed 3-D views of anything from places to products and from hotels to homes.

Greg Sterling has some good ideas on how companies could best use this, covering ideas such as real estate  and retail stores.

Panoramio brings a new way to view photos

Well, new to them at least.  Panoramio has brought out a new feature to allow you to “Look Around” some landmarks using a very simple, intiuitive interface.  As Google Earth Blog points out, this feels very similar to Microsoft’s Photosynth.  In addition, as Google System points out, it’s not nearly as cool.

I’m a bit disappointed that this doesn’t yet work in Google Earth.  I was picturing something much more similar to Photosynth, where you could interact in a 3D world.  Still, it’s a very nice start and works very well.  The transitions between photos are very smooth and really help illustrate how the photos are related to one another.

Some places to check out, as suggested by the Panoramio blog:

Update: A little more info is now up on the Google LatLong blog.