There’s fat ladies crooning in the shower, swine are airborne, and I found something in Bing that’s better than the same option in Google!?
Don’t send NASA to check for alien life/body-snatchers, it’s just a few really small perks that I’ve come across and they are pretty darn specific.
500 Terabytes of new image data
Microsoft started it’s ‘Global Ortho Project‘ in early 2010 with the very ambitious goal of mapping the Continental United States and Western Europe at a resolution of 30cm.
The concept is simple, just fly around with high resolution imaging devices, in this case the ‘UltraCamG‘ which Microsoft acquired in 2006 after purchasing Vexcel Imaging, GmbH in Austria.
The data is thus detailed, and current, a great thing when you are competing with Google’s constantly updated (~2 weeks) satellite images.
With a deadline of June 2012 the project is wrapping up almost on time and today the news sites are abuzz with the headlines that the project is completed and available to Bing Maps users.
For a comparison of the results here’s a look at the Beanstalk Office in Google Maps and then in Bing Maps:
Can you see the difference? Even if Bing didn’t have the resolution bonus, they own their image data so they aren’t required to spam their name all over the map like Google has to with the Landsat image data.
I’d love to show off the difference between Google’s Streetview and Bing’s Streetside view, but Microsoft apparently couldn’t afford to send someone by to take some images of our office <rasberry>so I’m not going to be bothered to show that off</rasberry>.
While writing this article I stumbled upon another difference between Bing and Google, there’s traffic data for the highways in my city on Bing, but Google has no data for my city (the capital city of this entire province), instead they spent the time to build traffic data for our sister city, Vancouver.
Talk about a let-down from Google, and a surprising plus from Bing. Tsk tsk..
On that side of things though, Google’s traffic info is much better than Bing’s. Google Maps even lets you pick a day of the week and hour of the day for planning ahead vs. making the assumption that you’ll only looking moments before you travel, or as you travel.
Overall the user experience with Bing Maps still lags behind Google Maps, with each attempt to zoom/pan/adjust on Bing Maps feeling like a blurry and slow mess due to the bitmap labels that stretch vs. re-size.
I even loaded Bing Maps in Internet Explorer (64 bit version) and Google Chrome to make sure I gave them the best chance to compare to the very peppy results with Google Maps.
As I was wrapping up this piece I noticed that there was a funny ‘block’ covering one of the malls in town when using Bing Maps.
Being a curious fellow I clicked it and found that they have mapped out the mall’s floor plan and allow you to see where each store is located, floor by floor!
To be really honest, both Bing and Google are developing some unique features that helps maintain the competition between them which is excellent for the consumers who can use either service or both.
Now if only I could get a service to tell me where my pens have gone..