Microsoft used a 6th July announcement to reveal details of the upgraded Bing Maps. The upgrade includes new features as well as improved content and a number of design improvements.
At present, the overarching use case for maps is isolated lookups, but with the upgrade Bing is taking a new approach, emphasising exploration and planning as well as context. The new version of Bing Maps brings the platform much closer to rival Google Maps when it comes to functionality. It could be argued that in some respects the new Bing Maps outstrips the Google platform.
In Google Maps, users are able to activate a feature for nearby search, enabling them to search for other types of business located close to the one they have been originally searching for. However, Google Maps does not allow users to carry out a simultaneous search for a number of business categories and see them on a single map. The new version of Bing Maps does allow this and saves each set of results in a tab. The upgrade allows users to move freely between tabs or layers of results. Click on an individual map and a user will access related content and a number of other features – reservations being an example – contained in the left-side panel.
The emphasis in the new Bing Maps on multi-step tasks and planning is sure to be of particular interest to users planning a vacation or already on their travels. Travellers will find being able to view relationships and distances between different business locations on a single map to be of great convenience.
The Bing Maps Preview is available for users eager to see what the new version of Bing Maps will look like. The preview has been made available to users in the following markets: the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Microsoft intends making the preview available in other territories in the near future. Users are invited to give feedback using the Bing Listens feature or via Bing Maps’ Twitter account. Bing Maps will add enhancements to the preview based on user feedback.