Microsoft has come up with a major Bing Maps upgrade seeking to reduce Google’s huge lead in the arena. The preview version of Bing Maps introduces a string of new features that many believe will give it parity with Google Maps.
New Bing Maps has been perked up with a string of new features, improved content and multiple design enhancements. The new content emphasizes on context, exploration and planning. Cues have been picked from MapQuest, emulating the layered results that facilitate simultaneous display of multiple category searches on the same map area.
Bing Maps is now a step ahead of Google Maps in this regard. A search feature in Google Maps enables users to find a location and then explore the businesses around it. However, users can’t search for several business categories (groceries, realtors, hotels) and see them appear on the same map. They have to execute separately each new query or category.
Using the new Bing Maps, searchers can create layers of results around a specific point, either by clicking designated icons (hotels, clinics, etc.) or by manually entering a customized query. You can save each set of results in a tab. Multiple tabs of results can be created and you can move back and forth freely between them.
When you click on an individual map listing a profile with associated content and functionality appears in the left panel. To find an additional option to see street-level images you need to right click on the map listing. The images can be expanded. Compared to dragging Pegman to a specific point in Google Maps, many find it easier.
Both Bing and Google Maps allow users to save individual listings. However the revamped Bing Maps makes it much easier for the users. For instance, anyone planning a visit to San Francisco may look for hotels, restaurants and places of interest on one map rather than doing multiple searches. As any map user will tell you, seeing the distances and relationships between various business locations on a single map is better.
The new Bing Maps are designed to facilitate multi-step task completion. It is particularly helpful for people planning to go on a vacation and looking to search different types of places, rather than businesspersons who are just seeking business listings data or directions for reaching a certain place.
Power users of maps are sure to appreciate new features. However, Bing needs to take steps for generating awareness about the features and convince people used to Google Maps for using them.