Microsoft updates Bing Maps with Streetside eye-level views and a Twitter feed. This is the second time that the Bing search engine has been updated in as many months. Another new feature is a Bing Bar that suggests searches and images when users begin to type queries, and improvements have been made to the Bing Windows Mobile application. Bing currently holds roughly 9.6 percent of the U.S. search engine market, while Google occupies 70.6 percent of the market.
Microsoft announced on Dec. 2 that it was releasing new features for Bing,
its search engine, set to roll out over the next few days.
Prominent among these new features is the beta version of the updated Bing
Maps, featuring Streetside and Photosynth imagery. Although Streetside works
very similarly to Google's Street View, in that it offers an eye-level
perspective on local terrain, Microsoft took pains on the official Bing Blog to
imply differences between the two applications.
"Streetside is an excellent example of collaboration with Microsoft
Research, Live Labs and the core maps team to build something that isn't just a
bunch of pictures stitched together," the
Bing Team wrote in a Dec. 2 post,
"but an actual physical environment
on top of which we can provide an experience that connects to information
across the Web."
Many of the adjustments to Bing Maps seem to echo a Microsoft mission to
pair traditional online cartography with real-time information from the Web.
Particularly in that spirit is Twitter Maps, which displays Tweets originating
from particular geographic locations; for example, typing in "New
York" will display the most recent Tweets
originating from Bryant Park, a Madison Avenue bar and other locations, marked
by a Twitter-branded pin on the Bing Map.
Other "Map Apps" include current traffic, live traffic video feeds
from across the United States,
local attractions and businesses, a hotel finder, Photosynth, and Signs &
Billboards. A feature called Local Lens indexes local blogs from around the
country, showing events happening within particular communities.
The Bing Maps beta can be accessed here.
There is also a new Bing for Windows Mobile application with "improved
auto-locate and voice search," downloadable here.
application allows users to speak a search query into their phones and provides
streamlined access to maps and driving directions, quick bookmarking of local
businesses and locations for later reference, and saved favorites and recent
A new Bing Bar
for Internet Explorer
and Firefox offers Search Assist (which suggests searches and images whenever
you start typing into the search box), Browse Plus (which automatically pulls
requested content, such as stocks, from across the Web) and No-Fail Cash
Detector (which figures out which merchants use Bing's Cashback feature).
Bing's Visual Search will also begin integrating Facebook and Twitter feeds,
allowing users to "quickly find your status updates of your friends and followers,
sort by upcoming birthdays and more."
This is the second time in two months that Microsoft
has updated Bing,
which is competing fiercely against Google. Currently,
Bing occupies roughly 9.6 percent of the U.S.
search engine market, according to a Nov. 11 research note by Experian Hitwise,
while Google occupies 70.6 percent of the market.
In November, Microsoft gave Bing a more robust video page-integrating feeds
from Hulu, MSN Video and ABC,
among others-and search results from Wolfram Alpha, the computational engine
that delivers a definitive, and usually numerical, answer in response to search
queries. In addition, Bing now delivers localized results for weather and
Bing could potentially gain market share in 2010 once Microsoft completes
its search and advertising deal with Yahoo, which will see Bing power back-end
searches on Yahoo's pages. If Yahoo's search engine market share is ported over
to Bing with no attrition once Microsoft and Yahoo close that deal, then Bing's
share would rise to 26.7 percent, based on the Experian Hitwise numbers.