Bing Maps Adds Streetside, Enhanced Bird’s Eye, Photosynth and More

Today is a day I’ve been waiting for. Today is the day that I can finally stop biting my lip and start blabbing to the world that YES we have Streetside photography in Bing Maps – woohoo! Today is the day we release our beta Silverlight version of Bing Maps and it is smoking hot. We’ve added two new map modes – Streetside and Enhanced Bird’s Eye. We’ve added an Application Gallery to browse applications mashed-in to Bing Maps – sort of the reverse of our APIs where you’re putting Bing Maps onto your site. We’ve added Photosynth and a slew of other features…read on! If you don’t like to read, you can watch the video Laura Foy and I made on Channel 9.

Silverlight UI – The first thing you’ll notice is that the entire site is built in Silverlight. If you don’t want to see the kick-ass experience, Streetside immersion, Enhanced Bird’s Eye, the Application Gallery, integrated 1-click directions, multiple searches and more you can use the Bing Maps AJAX site. Read all about that in my blog post, “Bing Maps Gets An Overhaul…And, Some New Features.”

Streetside™ – Perhaps you’re familiar with our initial release of Streetside photography in a technology preview of Live Search Maps which launched over 2.5 years ago – now, that’s going old school. With the enhancements of Silverlight 3 we’re able to take advantage of the 3D aspects included within the platform and truly immerse users into the site.

There’s a lot to Streetside that I’ll put together in a separate post, but to highlight some features:

  • Ground level photographs fully stitched allowing full continuous immersion into the street level landscape
  • Rotate images in a full 360 degree panorama
  • Zoom-in and out on specific locations within the Streetside photos with the mouse clicks, mouse wheels or navigation controls
  • Reverse geocoding tells you your approximate location within an address block
  • Vector information of the road drawn onto the images illustrating the street direction and route geometry
  • Street labels hovering within the images showing you road names (so you don’t get lost)
  • Auto-fade of labels when mouse movement has stopped improving the visual context of the Streetside photos
  • Overview map with direction projection image to indicate which direction you’re facing within the image
  • Compass rotation allows you to move the photos around you or see which cardinal direction you’re facing
  • Previous location button resets your view to the last known good view in case you walk down the wrong street and need to get out of there

Enhanced Bird’s Eye – Ah, our lovely Bird’s Eye photography. There’s just something about viewing an area from the sky using the four cardinal directions. Now, this is not your grandpa’s Bird’s Eye, oh no. We had to up the ante with Silverlight 3, so there are different experiences based on whether you’re in an urban or non-urban area for Enhanced Bird’s Eye – after all, it is “enhanced.”

Urban View – Our investments in photogrammetric processing are being leveraged for a new mode in the urban areas where we’ve captured high resolution photography and stereo data to create models of the respective cities. These models are now a part of Enhanced Bird’s Eye’s Urban View which places our 3D models into a 2D interface with 3D aspect ratio from Silverlight 3.

Non-Urban View – In the non-urban areas, we’re bringing flat facades to life by taking our satellite imagery and aerial photos to re-project the Earth in a way that allows a better perspective of the world.

Launch Button for Bing Maps Application Gallery Application Gallery – Bing Maps is now offering an application gallery for “mapplications” mashed into our consumer site. Now, to be clear we have the Bing Maps Platform for adding Bing Maps to your applications (or mashups). This is a little different – we’ve added a catalogue of applications for you to simplify your search and bookmark your favorite applications that have been built within Bing Maps. At this point you can browse applications like “Local Lens” for hyperlocal content sources associated with cities and in some cases specific  neighborhoods; or, the ever popular “Photosynth” where geotagged synths are now integrated natively into the search; or, check out map-based news articles from Newseum in the “Today’s front pages” app. How literally viewing your morning commute with traffic cameras from “TrafficLand?” And, being a mapping team we had to add “Twitter Maps.” Holler! The Twitter Maps application uses the newly release geolocation API from Twitter for geo-positioning actual Tweets. And, yeah, it works in Streetside. SICK!

Photosynth – Photosynth is now natively integrated into Bing Maps. This means you can zip down from space down into someone’s house…not kidding. If you’ve built a synth on Photosynth.com and geo-annotated it (the little globe icon) your synth gets indexed into Bing Maps. To view a synth on Bing Maps, open the app in the Application Gallery then explore where synths are available. Once you “Dive in” to one, you see more Silverlight 3 perspective 3D kick in as we tilt the canvas and load the synth in the appropriate location. If you aren’t making Photosynths, be a part of the fun via Photosynth.com. For a deeper dive into the Photosynth experience, check out the Photosynth blog.

Simultaneous Multiple Searches – Back by popular demand and better than ever, you can now perform multiple searches adding different content layers to the map at once. Search for tweets, local blogs, business search, and Photosynth on the map all at the same time. This is fantastic for searching for a restaurant, then searching for Tweets near the restaurant and maybe a Photosynth of the location. Then throw on the enhanced Enhanced Bird’s Eye to get a real feel for the area.

Local Search Integration – You’ve seen Bing Maps integrating into Bing Local Search. Well, now, we’ve taken Bing Local Search and integrated it with Bing Maps. Check out the super rich data available within the expandable results screen panel. Expand, collapse or pin the panel – fit for your convenience.

Simplified Navigation – We’ve simplified the navigation by positioning the navigation, zoom and map modes to the bottom of the page. Within the map icon you can select Automatic – based on user feedback, the map style will change given the zoom level your at switching from aerial to road to Enhanced Bird’s Eye automagically. Road – will lock you into road maps. Aerial – will lock you into an orthographic aerial photo mode. Bird’s Eye – will transition you between our Enhanced Bird’s Eye experience and aerial (further from the ground). The Blue Man icon will turn on all roads where we currently have Streetside photography in available (zoom all the way out to see a broad overview of the cities available around the US).

Integrated 1-Click Directions – Bill Gates dubbed them “Party Maps” because no matter where you were coming from 1-Click Directions would show you how to get to the party. We’ve taken that concept and integrated it into the driving directions logic so that if you’re planning to drive to a specific location you can search for it and based on the results select to add it to driving directions and pick a direction (N, E, S, W) to drive from.

Route Query Parsing – Planning to drive from Seattle to San Diego? Just put “Seattle to San Diego” in the search box and you’ll get point to point driving directions. This is also available in the AJAX site, but I forgot to mention it a couple weeks ago.

Auto-Location Detection – When loading the Bing Maps in Silverlight the site will use a number of different location detection methods to determine your position and center the map in an area near you.

Weather – Weather is integrated directly into the Bing Maps experience, in order to give you instant access to the weather of where you are or where you’re searching.

Images – Bing Image Search is natively integrated into Bing Maps giving you instant access to images of a specific region you’re searching. This is a great way to visualize where you’re going by leveraging the millions of photos that have been geo-indexed by Bing.

Defined Regions Query Parsing – Bing Maps highlights known areas on the map for specific neighborhood regions. Searching for “San Diego Gaslamp,” for example will zoom you over to the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego and highlight the area on the map.

Well, with Bird’s Eye, high resolution aerials, high fidelity, accurate (and field verified) road data plus the new addition of Streetside photography and enhanced Bird’s Eye all available in Bing Maps as map-based content (not to mention all the other great features) I think the game is afoot yet again! I’d say at the very least things in the online mapping world just got a little more interesting wouldn’t you say? :)

CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton

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27 comments
  1. hanny

    Excellent work guys. Extremely impressed.

  2. jaronuser

    I think Bing is one the best website's i've ever seen .

  3. donspero

    I finally found it … I think?

    Trying to find a place where end user input on the mobile bing was difficult. Made me feel like Sherlock Holmes. Why not make input from the end user easier?

    I really miss the app for "gas prices near you" on mobile. I've not found any other non-iPhone app that did as well as bing, but bing has thrown it by the roadside. Big loss to me and caused me not to use bing as my goto mobile app …  but like I said, I can't even find a replacement. Any suggestions?

  4. apeet

    This is awesome!

  5. Nathanael

    (1) @PacificFM,

    You need to learn some keyboard shortcuts, mate.

    On a Windows machine hold down the [Ctrl] key and tap the [V] key to paste. Normally this is written as Ctrl+V.

    On a Windows machine hold down the [Mac] key and tap the [V] key to paste. Normally this is written as Cmd+V.

    Click here for more:

    en.wikipedia.org/…/Table_of_keyboard_shortcuts

    — — – — — — – — — — – — — — – — —

    (2) @tronied, I agree on the rotation arrows for Bird's Eye.

    In any rotation system, you can either think of rotating the object in front of you (manipulative mindset) or think of moving yourself around the object (active mindset). The current controls suggest manipulative rotation, but actually deliver active rotation.

    — — – — — — – — — — – — — — – — —

    (3) Speaking of Bing Maps World Tour, where has it gone?

    You wouldn't hurt my feelings if you added a World Tour app to the mapplication gallery, but until that is done, would you please see to it that the original stays online?

    — — – — — — – — — — – — — — – — —

    (4) Obviously, with the Beta title it should be clear to everyone that you're not done building yet, but I'm very eager to be able to edit my collections (My Places) within the Silverlight interface. I hope that's at the top of the list.

    — — – — — — – — — — – — — — – — —

    (5) It would be nice to have any images that I have added to collection items scaled to fill the image slot on the pushpin flyout. Currently, if an image is larger than the miniature 16:8.6 thumbnail slot, a horizontal scrollbar is provided, but no vertical scrollwheel. Fitting the smallest dimension of the image (either width or height depending on the image) to the corresponding dimension of the image frame could solve this nicely.

    For that matter, putting the image (which is not usually all that massive) into a Deep Zoom control even though it hasn't been converted to DZI could work wonders. (The Snapdragon alpha does something similar in Javascript, for comparison. http://seadragon.com/snapdragon/”>seadragon.com/snapdragon ) If you need to convert attached images to DZI to make it work, though, talk to the http://seadragon.com team to make it happen with their Azure-hosted, original-image-linking, conversion service.

    — — – — — — – — — — – — — — – — —

    (6) Would the Bing Maps team please consider using a service like Get Satisfaction for gathering feedback? It would be a far better venue than leaving long comments on your blog posts. It also offers the benefits of letting customers help each other directly or see when their question has already been asked and answered before. I know that your Photosynth division used it to great success while they were still within Live Labs and shortly after they left that team to join yours.

  6. tronied

    Been trying it out over the last couple of days, and I think its great… However, if there is one thing that needs changing, its the method of rotating the birdseye view. There are what look like two arrows to the top left and right, pointing in the opposite way to the way it rotates. It would be great if you could swap the way in which it rotates, or make it so the arrow portion is at the bottom instead of the top to make it clearer which way it will rotate.

    Thanks for Bing Maps Beta, keep it up :)

  7. pacificfm

    ASSISTANCE WANTED

    For some reason I am unable to PASTE coordinates in the location field with this new Silverlight version of Bing Maps. Upon right clicking the mouse button to do a paste the Silverlight application button shows.

    How do I PASTE coordinates into the field?

  8. Nathanael

    Also, I'd like to see a 'Bing Maps World Tour'-style tour for collections in 'My Places'. Clicking on each item already zooms me down in the way that I desire, but a Play, Back, Next control would be really nice to get back.

    Also, in some cases I want to add a pin in my collection for an entire region – say a state or a country. There should be a way to specify that the map control should not zoom all the way down to the ground level in these cases, akin to the 'Capture Viewpoint' in Bing Maps for Enterprise.

  9. Nathanael

    Chris, my number one question is:

    When is the new imagery coming to the Direct3D, hardware accelerated, real 3D, Bing Maps for Enterprise control?

    I mean… I know this is a Beta, I know that all this imagery is now available to Macs, I know that Silverlight 4 out of browser apps running with full trust could finally bring full quality Bing Maps 3D and Worldwide Telescope back with real performance, but what are the immediate plans for your enterprise developers who will be continuing to use the Direct3D control, who want to access your new imagery?

    I'm not asking you to comment on whether Silverlight 4 is going to bring real 3D back to Windows users and to other platforms for the first time or what the timetable is on folding Worldwide Telescope into Bing Maps. (I assume that it is inevitable sooner or later for 3D to come to Silverlight and for that control to then become the default even for Enterprise apps, whether it's in Silverlight 4 or Silverlight 5.) I just feel like… you've announced your new imagery types. It's out there; we can all see it; there's no more secrets in that regard to keep.

    My question is simply when your users who prefer a higher fidelity experience can access these new data types while we wait for Silverlight capabilities to catch up with the Bing Maps for Enterprise control.

  10. AMJ

    This is great! I remember asking you Chris at PDC in LA about when will Bing Maps have street view type data and you just smiled and said "wouldn't it be nice if we did but you know I can't tell you about that right now" haha!

    So as a developer my question though is… will the silverlight control have the same seamless transitions and some of the same enhancements that the consumer beta site has?

    Keep up the great work guys!!

  11. jamiet

    edyg023

    The ability to access your directions from all MSFT properties? Great idea, I vote for that!

    I suspect this is what Live Framework (dev.live.com/liveframework) is supposed to enable!

    -Jamie

  12. TexanInParis

    Well, I can't run it on my machine.  First, it offers to install Silverlight.  Then it gives me a screen with a Start button, but says I already have the latest version.  Clicking Start just takes me back to the dialog.  Maybe I need to uninstall Silverlight.

  13. edyg023

    Great job!  Hey … I have a huge feature request.  It would be really awesome if we could save our directions into MyPlaces or MyDirections.  I can't tell you how many times I have entered the same addresses just to get directions.  It would be super awesome to save them and access them all over Windows Live, especially in Hotmail!!!  Anyone else feel this same way?  Maybe you can do this already, if so, please inform me!

  14. jamiet

    Nitpicking again, I'd like to see features that are in the AJAX site introduced into the Silverlight one. Namely:

    -Ability to draw lines (I use this to work out walking/running distances)

    -View KML collections from around the web (if you can already do this then I apologise – can you show me how)

    -Mapcruncher and 3D building layers

    thanks

    Jamie

  15. LEADSPECTRE

    AMAZING! keep up the good work guys!

  16. Anonymous

    Perfect enhancements of brilliant ideas. Personally I love the automatic switch of the views most combined with the simplified navigation. Streetside soon to come for Germany? And how to add/report neighborhood regions?

    Again, great work.

  17. jamiet

    nathaneal,

    Nice one, thanks.

  18. ghr

    Damn – that is impressive – Thank you.

  19. Nathanael

    Chris, if I don't see a Blue Man Group ad for Bing Maps over the holidays, that is a colossal failure on your marketing department's part. =)

  20. Nathanael

    Jamiet, just press the [1] key after you touch a synth. Keyboard shortcuts can still get you things that you want even when the buttons are turned off.

    Download the Photosynth Photography Guide here:

    photosynth.net/howtosynth.aspx

    and scroll to the end for the entire keyboard shortcut list.

  21. firstgrip

    Something similar to google map and earth.

  22. smikleson

    The new Silverlight desktop Maps is phenomenal though, I must say. Very much added functionality

  23. smikleson

    Um.. the Bing Mobile app is very pretty with a lot of usability updates but..

    1- The 'gas prices near you' functionality is gone

    2- It's slow

    3- The Movie/Theater functionality is gone, and the substitute is not efficient

    4- I feel like there's less map on my screen

    A lot of function was lost here. We want to find local things near instantly upon launch. It's very pretty though

  24. jamiet

    Where's the Photosynth 'play' button? Disappointed not to see that on Bing Maps.

    I'm nitpicking though – this is just awesome. PLEASE bring the Local Lens app and StreetSide to London.

    cheers

    Jamie

  25. FremyCompany

    Very impressive !

  26. waterpocket

    Wow.   The "Today's Front Pages" App made me shriek like a little girl.  

    A big tip of the hat to you and your team!

  27. jamiet

    Chris,

    StreetSide needs to be an app on XBox so we can fly through it using the XBox controller! (I'm serious by the way)

    -Jamie

Comments are closed.