I recently got a Windows Phone. Nothing fancy, I just needed something to replace my iPhone 4 (which apparently no one in the world can remove the simlock on; it is forever married to Softbank and therefore now forever useless). I got the HTC 8S, which was cheap and I thought it'd be interesting to try.
One of the things I was wary about was the maps. Apparently I still have Bing Maps (no trace of any Nokia stuff on this phone), and Bing Maps has never returned a useful search result for me, ever.
But amazingly, Bing Maps on Windows Phone 8 works great. It is able to recognize addresses, it finds most local businesses (despite the fact that I'm currently in a one horse town in the Netherlands), it gives great directions (though no turn-by-turn navigation as far as I can tell, and unlike Google Maps it doesn't do cycling or transit directions), it even supports traffic.
So I try Bing Maps in the browser again. It doesn't find anything. It recognizes addresses, sort of (as long as they include the city name; searching in the current view still doesn't do anything). But businesses, it's hopeless. Searching for "pizza" (which works fine on the phone) returns no results in the Netherlands, at all (there are some results in Germany, but nothing here).
The Bing Maps app for Windows 8 (including today's brand new update) doesn't fare much better. It'll do addresses, but business is hopeless. Searching for pizza actually takes me to the town of Pizzo (not pizza) in Italy, regardless of where my current view was!
How is it that Bing Maps on the phone can work fine, but on the web and Win8 app it's still useless? What is the magic sauce that makes it work on my phone? For the record, my phone language is set to English, though my regional settings are set to Dutch.
@Sven Groot: It sounds to me some stupidity surrounding the regional settings. On my machine with stock English/US settings it works great. What's your PC language/region settings?
English language, Dutch regional, just like my phone.
One of the great things about Google Maps is that it always works the same way. It doesn't matter if you're visiting a local version of the site or not, the search results will be the same.
EDIT: You say it works great for you, but does it work in the Netherlands? Can you go to Rotterdam and search for a pizza restaurant and get useful results?
@Sven Groot: I'm in the US and when I search Bing via desktop web or via W8 Maps app in the Rotterdam area for any type of food (even "food") I get nothing. If I search for "Hotel" I get a list of hotels. Strange. You may starve to death but at least you can find a place to stay.
@DeathByVisualStudio: Imagine getting the munchies after going to one of those "coffee shops" and not being able to find any food.
On my 920, Nokia maps is certainly usable, but it's not a patch on Google maps.
For my region, satellite imaging is nowhere near as good or as current (I'm talking a decade out of date) and there is really no equivalent of street view, but having to use the web version of Google maps is cumbersome.
Bing's released business data sets are currently limited to several countries (with the exception of Hotels, which are global, as you have cleverly observed). On Windows Phone, if your settings are outside of the "Bing powered" markets, your results are actually powered by Nokia behind the scenes (I just tested and it even says "results by Nokia" on the local pivot when searching with the hardware search button). My team actually built the service making it easy for the WP team to leverage the Nokia partnership and fill this coverage gap (NOTE: This is different than the Nokia Map app on the Nokia 920 phone. You are using a Windows Phone native app, but powered by Nokia search under the hood.). We are working as fast as possible to expand Bing powered coverage for all Bing entry points with a high quality experience, but no ETA to announce by me.
Dr. Sven, when you get to MS, I can hook you up with some dogfood and a feedback alias since you are familiar with several regions worldwide.
Shouldn't there be an early adopter beta program like Microsoft Connect, just for Windows Phone? I wouldn't mind adding a company app account/extra entry in the store
@kriskdf: Kris, thanks for the reply. It seems you're right, it does say "results by Nokia" on the local search, so I guess that applies to the map too. Interesting to have Bing Maps but search results from Nokia.
This difference really needs to be clearer somehow, though. It's really confusing that what appears to be the same mapping product returns completely different results on different platforms.
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