New Feature Release of Live Search Maps!

We’ve just made updates to our consumer site, Bing Maps which are tied back to some of the updates in the Virtual Earth platform – there’s a slough of posts coming from me today! For the release we’ve included some AWESOME new features for users to enjoy, so please…enjoy!

Local Search 
Search refinement – Searches can now be refined further through filters that become available based on what you search for. Hotels, Restaurants, and generic queries each have filters that you can use.

Related searches Related categories and neighborhoods with result counts allow you to see how many results there are before selecting a related search. This is the first time we’ve expose aggregate counts on the results page. These will be present for many filters and related searches in future releases.

YPC Phase 1.5MSN Yellow Pages and Local Search Vertical page both have ads above and below

Details page
The details page has moved to an inline layout (from the tabbed model in previous version). This allows much more content to be exposed via controls that users will interact with anyway (scroll bars) instead of hunting through the content for the tab.

In addition to the layout enhancements, we have a new control on the page called the scorecard. This scorecard is a different way of looking at user reviews. It extracts user sentiments for a specific set of attributes that are applicable to hotels and restaurants. You can view the average score for that attribute and dig into the user comments themselves.

Multi-Point Directions

Multipoint Driving Directions extends our historical point to point driving directions metaphor to allow multiple waypoints, or "stops", along the path of the route. This enables you to generate a single set of directions for reaching multiple destinations. Common scenarios where you might find this valuable include running errands, visiting homes for real estate purchase, picking up and/or dropping friends, choosing an explicit route to arrive at a gathering or other multi-stop trips around your city, region, or country.

Results for place searches (e.g. cities, states, countries, landmarks, etc.) have been improved, particularly for international queries.

Coverage for high precision geocoding has been increased. Address geocoding for the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy has been improved, with dramatic improvements in unstructured match rates for queries in these countries.

Imagery Processing and Rendering

  • Updated Desktop and Mobile road tiles (including overlays for hybrid/labels view) using the Baker (April 2008) road and place data
  • All Bird’s Eye Scenes were updated with new road and label data
  • The British Isles are rendered using a new map style
  • Aerial (ortho) updates:
    • USA: 63 metro areas across 27 states
    • Outside US: 278 metro areas across 56 countries
  • Bird’s Eye (oblique) updates:
    • USA: 146 metro areas across 35 states
    • Outside US: 97 metro areas across 14 countries

Vector Data (roads and places)

  • Refresh of roads and postal codes for North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific using April 2008 data from TeleAtlas, Navteq and Map Data Sciences (MDS)
  • Data to support the new and improved Virtual Earth find place implementation for Helios for the Geocoder and Find Place web service.

Localized Tiles
Giving the best map label experience was a goal of the Helios release for international customers. Across Western Europe, the updated map tiles provide the place names in the local language including The Queen’s English (En-gb), French French (Fr-fr), Spain’s Spanish (Es-es), Italy’s Italian (It-it), and German’s German (De-de).