Laura Foy

First Look: Streetside in Bing Maps

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This is a huge day for Bing Maps and as you'll see in this video a really great day for developers as well. Streetside imagery has been integrated into Bing Maps and they released the beta Silverlight version of the site. Other great features include enhanced birds eye, the application gallery, photosynth and simplified navigation. Chris Pendleton took me for a test drive to show off how it all works and there is some extra special devevloper love at the end just for you guys.

Check out Chris' blog post for more info.



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    The Discussion

    • exoteric

      Hot damn this looks and feels good!

    • Ian2

      Wow, havn't actually watched the video yet but just spent the last 15mins playing with the new live environment.  Awesome.

      What resolution are those streetside images?

    • bitdisaster

      it's just fun to play with Bing Maps but StreetView is US only

      What are the plans to extend StreetView to other countries. I guess it's difficult. Googel had alot of problems in Europe.

    • Bas

      I think it would've been pretty funny if they just went all out and called it Bing Maps Streetview. I mean, why even try to hide that it's based on Streetview? Just make the guy orange too.


      In fact, it's kind of dissapointing that both Laura and Chris are so obviously ignoring the massive Google-shaped elephant in the room and are acting like streetside imagery is amazing new technology. We've all seen Google Streetview, guys. You know it, and we know that you know it. So why act like this? I mean, why was the line "What a great way to check out the hotel you're gonna stay at" necessary? We know that's what you can do with streetside imagery, we've been doing it with Google Streetview (or even Bing's Bird's Eye) for years. The only reason I can think of, and this is gonna piss off Charles but frankly, it's pissing me off too, is that this video is all about marketing the new Bing maps to us, and that sucks. Show us the tech, fess up when something you've created is similar to the competition, and stop telling us how great something is just because Bing now has it too. Tell us why it's better instead.


      That aside though, I'm pretty impressed with most of the stuff being demoed. I think it's weird that this video seems to focus on the streetside imagery as the big new feature, when I'm much more impressed with the seamless zooming between satellite/bird's eye/3D geometry imagery, and the integrated geotagged Potosynths. Also the fact that Bing Maps is now Silverlight. The Silverlight maps control is so much better than the AJAX one (and the UX is leaps and bounds over Google Maps as well), and I'm glad that this seems to mean that they're at least planning to switch to a Silverlight version of Bing Maps by default now.

    • exoteric

      Good points, Bas. I also distinctly remember a Ping episode casually downplaying Google Streetview. The sincerest form of flattery is imitation but this is not a one-way street.


      This is niceness and it's a bit hard to blame Microsoft for spinning a little while being transparent*. This is is looking very nice on Silverlight, very smooth, and it's definitely going places. I'm also looking forward to a potentially hardware accellerated Silverlight 4 version (and later, sitting inside a hardware accellerated browser as well.)


      This also reminds me of the great new Pivot tool from the Live Labs team which actually embeds a browser which looks very cool with smooth zooming.


      One interesting thing to contemplate: will people be able to help build street maps in the future or is that what photosynth is for. What was it, 600 pictures inside the residence - how great would the photosynth look if it had, say an order-of-magnitude more pictures? Completely smooth 3D traversal inside the residence?


      Also: taking so many picures that the granularity and precision increases further and makes it possible to even remove artifacts such as cars and people (when in motion); on the other hand that would make everywhere look like a ghost city which may not be the desired effect heh.


      (* actually Charles often has a very balanced view - which he can afford because often Microsoft has the upper hand in some way, with great products either on the shelves or on the way to the shelves and with very long-term plans and projects.)

    • Bas

      The tech is nice, no doubt. Does this make Bing Maps orders of magnitude better than Google Maps? I think so. But what irks me is the fact that the obvious comparison to streetview is not only being ignored, but the way we're being talked down to like we know nothing of what the competition is offering.


      * actually Charles often has a very balanced view


      If what I said came across as suggesting that Charles is biased: that's not what I meant. What I meant was that Charles often reacts like a bull to a red flag when the word 'marketing' pops up in terms of Channel 9, and if this is not that, I don't know what is, so I can imagine Charles being as unhappy with this as I am.

    • jason818_25​3.33

      I new some one would get on here and complain about Google having streetview first.


      I think the integration of photosynth is very slick. A little disconcerting to think you might just happen to be able to look in side some ones home. Smiley


      edit: i just took a test drive of the new bing maps site. i enjoyed it very much. Still a couple things i would like to see done with photosync but for the most part very cool. I think this is one that 'marketing' should get a hold of and share with as many people as posible.

    • natelawrence

      Overall I'm very happy that this day has come but I do echo Bas' criticism on the lack of objectivity with regards to Google Street View.


      Other than that, clearly this is labeled Beta and I understand that, but I have a few gripes right off the bat:


      >> Because it's depending on Silverlight 3's perspective transform, the transition to Photosynths is marred by the fact that only the portion of the aerial imagery that was within the viewport before the transition is tilted when approaching the first image in the synth. I mean, we saw textured infinite planes on the Super NES back in the early 1990s. Surely Microsoft can top that on computers that are a decade and a half newer than a legacy home console.


      >> No aerial imagery is visible when viewing the synth in Overhead View. Seriously?


      >> When in Streetside Mode, quads and pointclouds from surrounding synths are not loaded up automatically. You guys have a treasure in Photosynth but Google Street View is beating the pants off you in terms of exposing the quads for their Panoramio and Picasa users' geotagged photos as soon as you're within proximity to them.


      >> Related to that third point... only one synth at a time? Come on, guys. When I've synthed an entire street and then done higher grain detail synths of my house or a flower bed on that street, I want to see their pointclouds together in overhead view as I browse over the satellite imagery.


      By the way... I've wondered for ages now: Is Photosynth marketed as Photosync in Europe? So many people seem to call it that.


      P.S. Laura, David ought to be a master synther, what with being in charge of the Photosynth team. Wink

    • Sven Groot

      I haven't watched the video yet but I've played with the new Bing Maps Silverlight beta. The Silverlight experience is amazing. So much better than the javascript-based versions of both Google Maps and Bing Maps. I also like the Photosynth integration.


      However, I still won't be using it, because:

      • Google Maps has better maps of Japan, and better aerial images (made up for by Bing's bird's eye view; the map is the killer though).
      • Google Maps for Japan has some English place names on the maps; Bing's are still exclusively Japanese.
      • Bing Maps doesn't understand Japanese addresses unless you use the Japanese version of the site (which I don't want). The Silverlight version doesn't understand Japanese addresses even on the Japanese version (but that's probably because it's beta). Google Maps understands Japanese addresses typed in both Japanese and romaji, regardless of what language the site is in.
      • Google Maps can give directions for public transportation (trains); Bing Maps does not.
      • Google Maps has street view in Tokyo; Bing Maps does not.

      I do prefer the UI of Bing Maps, especially with Silverlight. But you've got to make it as usable as Google Maps for Japan, even when using an English version of the site, before I'd consider switching.


      EDIT: Both Google and Bing Maps seem to assume that the Japanese maps will be exclusively used by Japanese people. Although Google is leagues ahead of Bing (with at least some English names, support for searching with romaji, and being even remotely usable without using the localised version of the site) it's still not usable unless you can read at least some Japanese.


      If Bing could offer maps of Japan geared towards non-Japanese on the English version of the site, I know at least several dozen foreign students here in Tokyo who'd switch in an instant. Plus it'd be usable by e.g. tourists who don't speak Japanese, which currently neither Google nor Bing is.

    • Bas

      One thing Google Maps is much, much better in than Bing Maps is finding addresses, which is kind of essential for a maps application. With Bing, you have to be zoomed in on at least the city, or worse, the general area in the city where the address is before it'll find it. With Google Maps, I can be zoomed in on Zanzibar and it'll still find a street in Honolulu. Fix that, use the Silverlight UI by default, and I'll have no reason to ever use Google Maps again.

    • Hakime

      I am sorry, I don't like it, this Silverlight based implementation is awfully slow and uses just all my computer resources. I don't see the point to have this sort of implementation when in the same time the user is facing slow performance and in general a bad experience. Sure it looks pretty, but this is slow, slow and slow. 


      Ok that's a beta, but even if they manage to make it perform faster, this Silverlight will continue to suck my computer resources like hell as it does for anything else. Silverlight is like flash, a web technology will should not exist because it is just a pain to use. Instead of pushing this proprietary technology, Microsoft should better join Apple, Google, Mozilla and anyone else besides Adobe to develop and promote open standard web technologies. 


      The futur of the web is CSS, javaScript, SVG, HTML, WebGL and so on. Recent introduction of CSS animation and 3D effects look very promising and all those technologies combined can easily replace Flash and Silverlight. 

    • Sven Groot

      The thing is, it doesn't understand Japanese addresses at all. Regardless of whether I'm zoomed in somewhere or not.


      In Google Maps, I can type "東京都目黒区駒場4-6-1" and it'll find it exactly. If I type "4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro, Tokyo" (which is the same, only written in romaji) it doesn't actually recognize the address, but it does find some stuff that's at least close to what I was looking for.


      In Bing Maps, both of those search string will find nothing. All you get is "We didn't find results for your search." It doesn't matter if I'm zoomed in on Tokyo or not. Only when you use the Japanese version of the site (which means everything in the UI is in Japanese, which I don't want and isn't necessary for Google Maps) it'll recognize the Japanese writing (it'll still do nothing with the romaji version). And with the Silverlight version, it doesn't work even on the Japanese version.


      And then there's the maps themselves. Compare the same area in Tokyo on Bing and Google:


      Bing Maps:

      Tokyo on Bing Maps


      Google Maps:

      Tokyo on Bing Maps


      Not only does Google's map look much nicer, it's also actually usable for people who can't read Japanese.

    • natelawrence

      I completely agree with you on the features or usability side of things.


      However... the Google map looks nicer? I agree with you as far as the road number icon (Google's hexagon is more tasteful than Bing's shield) and their kanji is definitely more graceful but beyond that I don't find the aesthetics superior in favor of either one. You may certainly prefer Google's use of wide road vectors and their suppression of smaller streets at this zoom level but it is a subjective matter of opinion as to whether this is better or worse than using map vectors that are closer to their actual scale or maintaining all existing streets at higher zoom levels.


      Perhaps you don't care for the reds and oranges that Bing uses in Japan because you, as a Westerner, associate red with danger signs and such, rather than the Eastern idea of using red in connection with the rising sun or considering orange a lucky colour?


      These are just observations and questions and I hope you have read my words in a calm, objective, and friendly tone. I'm not trying to flame you.


    • Sven Groot

      Bing's just looks more cluttered to me. It's probably mainly a matter of the inclusion of minor roads and the kanji font that creates that appearance though.


      The best maps for Japan are actually from Yahoo! in my opinion (on the Japanese site), but again since that's a Japanese site I don't like using it. Yahoo! Maps does have some nice features though, such as walking directions to the closest station from any location. Smiley And despite having the same number of minor roads as Bing at that kind of zoom level, and a similar colour scheme, it still looks less cluttered somehow.

    • the_corona

      I like it, especially the "virtual" birds eyed view when zoomed out more. Also the fly in transition to streetview is nice.


      BUT even just sitting there doing nothing it uses 30% CPU and when it transitions to something its up to 70+% and my fans spin up like crazy.


      Silverlight in general is very slow for me, I can't even watch any video in fullscreen because all I get is a slideshow. If only I could get it to work maybe i would even switch to bing maps.

    • ivan_

      This works very smooth, just like Google Maps work on iPhone. Smiley


      But has anyone tried using Bing Maps on Windows Mobile 6.5. It is sooooooo bad, I could not believe my eyes when I saw it, and this is not the worst part, Bing Maps are much worse on iPhone. I even had to return my WinMo phone, and one of the reasons was horrible Bing Maps implementation on WinMo.



    • exoteric

      That looks very aliased. Bing is improving quite nicely though but the main service selection criteria may still be image and map quality on its own - like how good is the local satelite or aerial photography.

    • contextfree

      Why do you think an implementation based on SVG et al wouldn't use comparable resources if it were doing the same things?

    • Bas

      It's the future!

    • bashmohande​sx

      Nice upgrade, I wish Public Transit was added this time, this is the only killer feature missing from bing maps that Google Maps has

    • intelman

      I saw the streetside vehicle on campus about 2 years ago. They have been collecting images this long?


      The street I was on where the vehicle was is listed as not having streetside content. It was in inner campus.


      They did get the horshoe stadium though.


    • StealthMode

      Silverlight Bing Map is Great! 


      I think the "Streetside" should have been named "GroundView"

    • Erwyn

      For poeple thinking that Google was first with Street View, think again:


      Microsoft Street Side dates back to 2006, so it predates Street View.

    • ChadW

      This is cool but I'm really missing the ability to right click on the map and say "Get directions from here" or "Get directions to here"

      It's also harder to discover how to open up my list of pins or create an on the fly list (again, no right click functionality in silverlight)

    • natelawrence

      @Chad, right click is built into Silverlight 4. Maybe by the time Bing Maps Silverlight gets out of Beta it will be using SL4 with right-click, printing, and hardware acceleration.


      @Erwyn, nice link. If you follow the links in the TechCrunch story you wind up back here at Channel 9.

      Original video with the first Streetview team: ">


      Original Streetview can still be played with here: Big Smile


    • natelawrence

      Double post. Sorry.

    • Ash Tomar

      Well done boys you are on right track. Now you need to look on quality of your Bing service. You have excelled in UI but you will not excell if you do not get Bing quality to atleast match Google's. I think the killer app in Bing will be if it allows user to correct the address or put the pin in the right place. This will trigger global correction of Bing database with uptodate and current pins. You will need a validation team though to contain the explosion ;-)

    • Ash Tomar

      Well done boys you are on right track. Now you need to look on quality of your Bing service. You have excelled in UI but you will not excell if you do not get Bing quality to atleast match Google's. I think the killer app in Bing will be if it allows user to correct the address or put the pin in the right place. This will trigger global correction of Bing database with uptodate and current pins. You will need a validation team though to contain the explosion ;-)

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