Microsoft updates its Bing Maps application with more features, including one that integrates Flickr photos into its Streetside view, which presents an eye-level view of terrain. In the future, Microsoft plans to add real-time video, interior panoramas and constellation viewing to Bing Maps. The Bing road map for 2010 includes an increased focus on knitting together data from multiple sources for its results pages and structuring results more efficiently with help from third parties.
Microsoft has integrated new features into its Bing Maps application as it
continues to battle Google for U.S.
search engine market share. The latest features continue the bulking-up of Bing
Maps that has taken place over the previous few months and follow the road map
for Bing that Microsoft laid out in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.
One of the new features is a technology preview of the Streetside Photos
application, which attaches geotagged Flickr photos to a particular location in
Bing Maps' eye-level Streetside view of terrain. Historical photos will also be
incorporated, allowing users to see a particular neighborhood as it looked in
the past. Microsoft is working on video overlay technology that will attempt to
unite real-time video with street-level imagery, something it promises to
demonstrate in more depth by the end of 2010.
Indoor Panoramas will extend Streetside indoors, allowing an eye-level
survey of interiors such as theme parks and, in Microsoft's example, Seattle's
Pike Place Market. On the opposite end of the scale, Microsoft will also
incorporate data from WorldWide Telescope to give a ground-level view of the
constellations while in Streetside.
"The Web is changing. In the past we have been forced to 'disassociate'
all this content from its physical context," the Bing Maps team wrote in a
Feb. 11 post on the
Bing Community Blog.
"We thought there was probably a better way to
reconnect all this data with its home, to provide greater context and to ultimately
help you use it to make better decisions about things you're trying to get done
in real life, not just on a search engine."
At the TED
conference running Feb. 9
to 13, Bing Maps Architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas will delve into this attempt
to link data within its geospatial context. "We've made a number of
updates to the Bing Maps platform to bring this idea to life through high-resolution
imagery from outer space all the way down to the front door of the
bakery," the Bing Maps team added.
At CES, Microsoft spokespeople gave eWEEK a generalized road
map for Bing in 2010:
Microsoft will seek to refine its search engine's data
ingestion process, attempt to better sense what its users want out of a
particular search and structure results more efficiently.
To accomplish those goals, Microsoft will continue stitching together data
from multiple sources for its results pages. When it comes time to search for a
particular point of interest, such as for a particular restaurant, Bing will
utilize an algorithm to semantically analyze reviews and similar sources, in
order to offer a dynamic scorecard for items such as "service" and
"presentation." For searches such as movie listings, Bing will also
rely more heavily on structured data developed by third parties.
The newest applications for Bing Maps fit into that plan by incorporating
additional layers of data into what could be regarded as the utilitarian
function of displaying a map.
According to statistics company ComScore, Bing
carried out 11.3 percent of U.S. searches in January,
behind Google at 65.4
percent and Yahoo at 17 percent. In a Feb. 9 research note, Broadpoint AmTech
analyst Ben Schachter noted that "trends continue to be very strong for
Bing," even as Microsoft and Google continue to add more features in
attempts to increase and stabilize their respective shares of the market.