Bing Maps

By dbaodbao (1261536975|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

In Microsoft's continued effort to catch up with Google's various search engine tools, they have recently announced new additions to the beta version of Bing Maps. While Bing Maps itself is not a new feature, some of the features announced this week are brand new to Bing.

Overview

This move is obviously intended to directly match up with Google Maps' popular features in the constant race to catch up to Google's stronghold on the better part of the search engine market share. Google is currently dominating with around 70% of the market, while Bing currently stands at roughly 10%. Google's Street View, introduced in the U.S. in 2007, allows users to see actual images of your search destination instead of just grids. With this tool, you can visually explore your neighborhood and any other place you're interested in. Bing Maps has added Street

Applications

People nowadays have dozens of different social networking tools that they use on a daily basis, but these are usually separate and require visiting each site to receive the benefits. The newly announced Application Gallery will allow users to integrate Twitter with Bing Maps.

bing%20twitter.jpg

As shown above, you can see recent Twitter updates from your location and where they were updated. You can refine your results but search by keyword or username as well, if you're more interested in the location of one particular Twitter user. Or you can see only updates for a specified location (you can enter an address or landmark.) There are a number of other ways you can interact with Bing Maps. If you're interested in exploring a new neighborhood, there's a feature called Local Lens that has (supposedly) has developed content for local areas. Additionally, Bing has integrated PhotoSynth, which can create a 3D visual experience from a collection of images. This will even allow you to virtually view some museum exhibits (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for example.) However, it wouldn't load on my computer. However, almost none of the apps worked for Detroit (which was the closest city to Ann Arbor that Bing had map results for.) Bing has announced that around 100 cities have been mapped so far, with more to come in the near future.

Comparison

So how exactly does it stack up against Google Maps?

Search Feature Google Bing Winner
Image Quality Images often get grainy, especially when you zoom in further Clear (see below) Bing
Coverage Fairly extensive, but still hasn't covered house in Marquette Only major cities for now, Detroit and Cleveland Google
Maneuverability Use directional arrows Can navigate freely Bing
Interactive Can show you nearby restaurants & businesses Links for "What's Nearby" all returned no results Google
Add-Ons Not compatible with Twitter Can link your twitter and map results, extensive Map Apps Bing
Software Only need Internet to access Requires Microsoft Searchlight Google
Overall Well-established, fairly comprehensive New entrant to market, similar functionality Google

Although Bing Maps beta features of number of new additions, I still think Google maps has the competitive edge for now. Microsoft attempts to match Bing on the core competency of visual search, but adds new features that they're using their users will want integrated with maps. Having been around for a few years, Google has the advantage of already street mapped significant portions of America, while Bing is just beginning. The limited areas that Bing Maps covers currently will hurt them, as many users who hear about Bing Maps will still be unable to use them. Additionally, some people may argue that simpler is better and that all of Bing's applications don't really add any value to the map search experience. When Bing Maps becomes more developed and a little older, I will certainly try it out, but for the time being, I'm definitely sticking to good ol' Google.

Bing%20Maps.jpg
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