Tip o’ the Week 302 – Bing Maps Preview

clip_image002Bing Maps has had a bit of a refresh recently, with a new look and some tweaks to functionality & feel. The quickest way to get to the site is to type bingmaps into your browser’s address bar then press CTRL+ENTER, to add the www and the .com bit to either end, and be redirected to the maps URL.

clip_image004If you end up looking at the old Bing Maps, then try replacing the /maps/… bit of the URL with /mapspreview, or just click the Try the new Bing Maps banner.

Sometimes, however, old things are cooler than new things. There are some missing features: maybe that’s part of being in “Preview”. There’s an intro video that’s shown to introduce what’s new in the Preview. Check it out here.

clip_image006The old Bing Maps featured lots of layouts of facilities such as shopping malls and museums when you click on the outline of the building (along with a directory on the side – compare the view on the right with the Preview below – not quite so nice, unfortunately).

clip_image008Still, there are plenty of other things that are better in the Preview, and there’s always an opportunity to provide feedback (link at the bottom right), and ask for any missing features to be restored.

You can switch back to the old format by clicking the Leave Preview button on the lower right if need be, and provide an explanation of why you’re bailing out.

The most visible difference is the change to the way search results are displayed – you get a history of different searches you’ve carried out, colour coded and stacked up on the left, while the information panel below the current result set is used for displaying all sorts of search info – on searching for a location or clicking a point on the map, context-sensitive info is displayed on the side, with details from Wikipedia, reviews from the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp, and in the case of a tube or train station, times are displayed.

Navigation between different types of maps has changed, with a drop-down on the top right, now including Ordnance Survey maps view if you’re in the UK (or you go to the UK version). For Hallowe’en, you can Spookify your maps should you wish, and there may be other map variants to come.

The A-Z style London Street view has vanished from the UK variant too (maybe in the realisation that the old format just isn’t as easy to read as most smartphones maps), as has the ability to see the layout of the tube network by clicking on a station to see the familiar colour-coded lines superimposed on the real map. If you still want to see that kind of view, check out Here.com mapping and click on Transit to show the layout of train lines etc.

The Streetside service isn’t universally available – in the UK, major cities are covered pretty well but don’t go looking out in the sticks. Try right-clicking a point on the map and if Streetside is present, you’ll be able to select it from the context menu and see a quick preview without moving away from the current map view. Useful if you fancy a refreshment and yet your watering hole of choice is tucked away somewhat.



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