New Bing Map Apps: Gas Prices, Distance Calculator and Parking Finder

Let me take you on a little trip. It’s raining in Seattle today (surprise, surprise), so I’ve decided to head to San Diego for the weekend – the weather should be better there. First thing I want to do is figure out how far it is from Seattle to San Diego. I hear the drive is beautiful especially along the Oregon coast, so let’s calculate the driving distance…introducing the Distance Calculator Map App.

The Distance Calculator Map App will generate the distance between two places on the map. Enter “Seattle” in the “Add a Place” box in the left-hand navigation. You’ll see it added to the “Your Places” list below the input box. Then, enter “San Diego.” There are multiple places in the world called San Diego, so select “San Diego, CA” from the disambiguation box. With each input a flag is placed on the map and after you select San Diego a distance calculation will kick in and calculate the distance “as the crow flies.” So, next to the airplane icon you’ll see just how many miles it is to fly from Seattle to San Diego (you can also switch to kilometers). Additionally, a arc will be drawn on the map to represent the distance over the Earth.

Beneath the airplane calculation, you’ll see a bus and car icon with a button adjacent to it for calculating the route. Click the button and the map will calculate the fastest route distance between Seattle and San Diego. There’s also a route line drawn on the map to represent the driving directions. I can now see that flying from Seattle to San Diego is about 1,062 miles and driving is about 1,265 miles. If I wanted to change my destination I can do so by simply grabbing the flag on San Diego and moving it to somewhere else…like Las Vegas (871 miles, 1,132 miles, respectively). Moving the flag will not only change the destination (or origin); but it will also reverse geocode the location (estimate the address where you moved the pin). I could also add stops on my journey by simply adding another location in the box – like Phoenix, AZ. The Distance Calculator Map App will add the summation of all points as the result. So, now flying from Seattle to Vegas to Phoenix is about 1,128 miles and driving is 1,419 miles. Your Places list provides the calculation next to the destination from the previous stop, so now I can see the distance from Seattle to Vegas and Vegas to Phoenix in addition to the whole trip. I should also note that the Distance Calculator Map App also works in Bird’s Eye and Streetside modes.

But, the whole idea was to drive the coast so let’s take on the extra 203 miles from Seattle to San Diego and figure out the cost of gas using the Gas Prices Map App.

The Gas Prices Map App is pretty self-explanatory – it provides you with gas prices within a 5 mile radius of where you’re searching. So, I’ll look closer at the beginning of my route in Seattle and find the closest gas station with the best price. Because I can have two map apps running simultaneously, I can see my route from Seattle to San Diego still on the map. This allows me to see where these gas stations are relative to my route. So, while Union 76 is \$3.06 per gallon, there’s a Shell station that’s \$3.14 per gallon and time is worth more to me than the 7 cents per gallon, so I’ll stop there.

Starting the Gas Prices Map App loads all gas stations as soon as you fire it up. You’ll notice the branded icons on the left navigation panel with name, address and price information per station along with pins on the map. Clicking on any of the pins will popup a call out that gives you the same information, plus the last date and time the information was updated. There’s also a link to get directions from within Bing Maps. Clicking on any of the gas stations on the left-hand navigation will re-center the map to the respective gas station.

Alright! So, I’ve decided to drive, I’m fueled up and on my way. After enjoying the beautiful Pacific Coast I get to San Diego and head down to the waterfront. Now, I need a parking spot to let my car cool off and let me enjoy that cool ocean breeze. Enter the Parking Finder Map App.

The Parking Finder Map App helps users find a place to park their car. Oh, there’s just so much more though. This Bing Map App was built by BestParking.com and they have a massive amount of data about the various parking lots around the US. Once you select a parking lot by clicking on the respective pin on the map, you’ll get contextual information such as address, hours and a phone number. You also get information about the type of lot such as outdoor and self-parking plus the payment types they accept. There are links to view photos of the respective lot (on BestParking.com) or view the facility on BestParking.com.

The Parking Finder Map App uses the Bing Maps One-Click Directions feature for calculating directions to the respective lot. Just click the link, select the most appropriate cardinal direction from which you’re coming and the route will be calculated for you with step-by-step directions within Bing Maps. Arguably the most useful feature, however, is the ability to calculate the rate for parking at the lot. Clicking the “Calculate Rate” link for a parking lot will bring up a calculator where you enter your start and end date and times to estimate how much it will cost to park at all the lots listed on the map given the respective time! Wow! You can easily compare lots around the area you want to be and get the cheapest one.

So, there you have it – a little weekend getaway from Seattle along the beautiful Pacific Coast to spend some time in San Diego all powered by Bing Maps. Although, I’m going to hit Bing Travel to fly home and have my car shipped back since 18 hours of driving is good enough for me.