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)

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. :)

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.

Switzerland takes Google to court over StreetView

We told you a few months ago that Switzerland wasn’t pleased with the new StreetView imagery in their country.  Now they’re going to sue Google in an attempt to get the imagery removed.  Google intends to fight the case.

The first step will be interesting — Google may be required to remove the imagery from Switzerland until a ruling is made.  The order has not come out yet, but could come soon.  Hanspeter Thuer, the federal data protection commissioner in Switzerland, has asked the tribunal to force Google to take the images offline.

The outcome of this case will certainly have huge ramifications on the legality of StreetView in the rest of the world.  Other countries have been displeased with it, and if Switzerland is successful in getting the imagery removed it could cause a small ripple effect to other countries.

This will certainly be a story to watch.

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]

Google Maps Navigation coming to Android 2.0

I’ve been saying for a while that I think Android will overtake iPhone in 2010, and recent news seems to be pointing that direction.  First you have the impressive-looking Verizon Droid, which comes out in early November.  By all accounts it will be an awesome device.  It will be the first phone running the Android 2.0 operating system.  Now Google has sweetened the deal even more.

Today they announced that Android 2.0 devices (starting with the Droid) will come with Google Maps Navigation.  This is similar to TomTom and other devices, but with a few big advantages.  The main one, of course, is that it’s free.

Not only that, but it has some cool features:

  • POI and road data loaded on the fly.  Always up-to-date, no need to run “updates”.
  • Search in plain English.  Don’t type the address (unless you want to).  Just type the name of your destination and go.
  • Search by voice
  • Traffic view.  They’ve integrated the traffic data, which makes obvious sense.
  • Search along route.  I’ve always wanted a feature like this on my Garmin.  Very cool
  • Satellite view.  I’ve always wanted this, too.  It’s weird on most GPS devices when you’re in a parking lot — it’s just like you’re in a field.  This will help.
  • Street View.  This is slick.  To get a preview of what your next turn looks like, just double-tap the map and it’ll zoom you in there to take a peek.

All in all, this sounds pretty sweet.  Not only does it sound like possibly the best GPS software out there, it doesn’t cost a thing.  Being Android-only will certainly hurt it in the short-term, but long-term it will provide a big boost.

Will they ever bring this software to the iPhone?  I’m sure they’d love to, but I doubt Apple will allow it.   Time will tell.  Check out the video below for a bit more info:

A bunch of additions to StreetView

According to the Google Earth Blog and Google Maps Mania, a whole bunch of cities have been added to StreetView.  They include Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Prague, Quebec, Toronto and Vancouver.

Check out some of the great locations that Keir has found in Canada and in Prague, and be sure to submit your new finds to the Google Earth Hacks StreetView gallery.

Japanese StreetView is facing a variety of complaints

japan-streetviewThe Japanese version of Google StreetView is facing an increasingly higher number of complaints, about a variety of topics.  Along with the usual complaints (faces, license plates), there is the issue of people using the images on secondary sites for the purposes of discrimination and bullying.

To help combat this, Google has set up a new system that makes it easier for users to report problems.  They even allow users to report problems with secondary sites, which Google will then deal with (ask for removal, legal action, etc).

The concern now is that this action might not be enough.  I guess only time will tell.

Google ties business listings to StreetView

Google has just released a nice evolutionary trait to Google Maps — linking businesses to StreetView.

When searching for a business in Google Maps, you’ll now often see a link for “StreetView” in the description bubble.  Clicking that takes you to a StreetView of that location.  When in StreetView, you’ll see the familiar red placemark icon, which is even clickable.  Better yet, it’ll show your other placemark icons in StreetView as you pan around.

What I’d like to see now is a way to show ALL markers on the map while in StreetView.  It’d be nice to be able to move around in there and have everything clearly identified.  I imagine that’s on the list of things to come.

The video below shows a bit about how this new feature works: