(Note: This post is part of two major announcements for Bing Maps/Local on Dec. 15. Be sure to check out the other announcement about the launch for Version 1.1 of the new Bing Maps style.)
Throughout the last few months, Bing Maps & Local has focused on how our product can help with everyday decisions and deliver innovative experiences to a wide audience. The end result is a more functional, easier-to-use, and differentiated experience. The theme for this release has been around three areas: i) Delivering new types of visual detail, ii) Simplifying local tasks, and iii) Improving maps on mobile. With that in mind, today we’re announcing four new features we’re really excited about:
· Interior Views: Provides users with immersive 360-degree panoramas of local businesses
· OpenTable Integration: Lets users interact with OpenTable directly from restaurant pages
· Real Time Transit on Mobile: Gives users real time info if a bus is on-time or delayed
· Streetside for Mobile: Brings users street-level imagery + some mobile-exclusive enhancements
Have you ever showed up to a restaurant excited to try it for the first time only to be disappointed by its look and feel? Wouldn’t it be great if you could explore the inside of a restaurant just as you can explore the streets with Streetside? Reading reviews of what other people say about a place’s atmosphere is helpful, but you’re the real judge of whether a restaurant’s décor, size, and appearance fit what you’re looking for. And if a picture is worth 1000 words…well, each of our new Interior Views could make a very large book.
· Through a partnership with EveryScape Eats, Bing Local lets you “step inside” and explore full panoramas of restaurants.
· Interior Views are accessed by clicking on the “step inside” panoramic thumbnail on a Bing Local details page.
· Clicking the thumbnail opens the experience (built on Silverlight) and enables you to jump inside the restaurant, move from room-to-room, and explore 360-degree views.
· Current coverage is ~5,000 restaurants (majority Boston metro area) but will be expand continually for breadth and depth in more cities.
Our new Interior Views help you decide if a restaurant is the right place to go…so it only makes sense to better help you get a reservation. When you go to a local details page for one of the 15,000 restaurants signed up with OpenTable, you can now search for available reservations directly in Bing. Enter in the date, time, and party size and Bing pulls up what’s open. Click on a time you want and you’re brought to the page to finalize your reservation. Simple. To recap:
· Reservations through OpenTable are now available right on the local details pages.
· Every restaurant that is an OpenTable customer will have this functionality.
· Bing Local makes planning a night out easier and faster so you can spend more time on the important things (like what you’re going to eat once you get there!)
Real-Time Transit & Streetside for Mobile
At Bing, we want to help our users answer a lot of questions. Two of these questions are: “When is my bus really coming?” and “What’s the place I’m walking to look like?” With Real-Time Transit and Streetside added to Bing Maps on mobile, we can check those two questions off the list.
Real-time Transit for Bing Mobile on the iPhone adds up-to-the-minute data for Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco transit agencies. In one release cycle, Bing added transit routing and is now the first search engine to offer real-time transit information.
Streetside on Bing Mobile gives you the street-level imagery currently available on the desktop but with a few “enhancements.” If you pinch the screen to zoom out, the Streetside imagery will be stitched together so you can flick your finger and easily pan through streets. Also, the names of local businesses in the current street-level view appear under their respective buildings so you can learn more about what you’re seeing.
Below is a video to see Real-time Transit in action, but to learn more about the entire Bing Mobile release and see all the features and screenshots, head to the Bing Mobile Post.