Microsoft has expanded on the number of locations that users of the free Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8 can explore in 3D.
“With this release, we’re making it even easier to explore the beautiful cities that we have lit up in three dimensions,” announced the company in a statement. “Using the new Explore 3D pane and Featured 3D Cities carousel you can quickly dive into any of our 96 cities.”
The new 3D cities include Las Vegas; Tucson, Ariz.: Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Reno, Nev.; Richmond, Va.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Providence, R.I. They join a bevy of other popular destinations like Munich, Florence, San Francisco and Microsoft’s own backyard, Seattle.
Users can zoom in, rotate and pan the new 3D maps by employing a touch-screen or mouse. The Las Vegas map, for example, provides a fairly realistic reproduction of the city’s famed “Strip” and the hotels and casinos that flank it.
Also new to both the standard Bing Maps app and the preview edition are personalized recommendations.
“With the new auto-suggest feature, both apps leverage the intelligence of the Bing platform to provide you with a personalized experience, which in turn helps you get more done,” explained the Bing Team in a blog post. Bing Maps will display past searches and favorites as users begin typing into the search box.
The Bing Maps app gains the ever-present floating search box that debuted with the newer preview version. Additionally, the apps will “pack in recommendations for popular searches nearby and inline insights.”
Microsoft partnered with Yelp and TripAdvisor to lend Bing’s recommendation engine a social edge. “These suggestions are custom-built for the apps; now you can see if a restaurant is worth going to, without leaving the experience,” said the company. Results show up with average star ratings and a glimpse into the number of corresponding reviews on each service.
Sticking to Microsoft’s new sync everything approach to apps, Bing Maps favorites now roam across multiple Windows devices and even Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant technology that will ship with the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update.
Saved favorites appear in Cortana’s notebook, filed under Places, said the company. “So when you land in Las Vegas, all your favorites will be available on your Windows Phone.”
As users of select Windows Phones explore their surroundings, Bing can also help them keep track of their activity levels.
In a separate May 29 statement, Arun Das, senior program manager of the Bing Health and Fitness Team, said that the new Bing Health and Fitness app will support the pedometer feature in upcoming Lumia 630 and 635 smartphones from Nokia. (Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia’s hardware unit on April 25.)
Essentially, this enables the app, which currently provides GPS tracking, calorie counting and health tips, to double as a fitness tracker, said Das. “What this means is that your phone in your pocket can identify and continuously count all the steps that you have taken during the day, the calories burned and distance traveled.”