Archive for December 2009
I have already talked about Bing Maps’ new “applications” feature in my post Genius new feature on Bing Maps – apps and how excited I am about their potential however I still think there is room for improvement and I was determined to let Bing Maps’ technical evangelist Chris Pendleton know about it so earlier today I tweeted this:
Chris replied saying:
@jamiet I assume you mean the vintage of photos rather than time of data overlain. That WOULD be sweet.
Well Chris, yes, that would be cool but it isn’t what I meant so allow me to explain. To do that first let’s take a look at the list of applications available today in the beta:
I’ve highlighted the Local Lens (i.e. blog tracker) and Twitter apps because those are the ones where the dimension of time is important. Its not enough to know WHERE they occurred, you may want to know WHEN they occurred too. Any event based application (e.g. A gig-guide from Ticketmaster as I mentioned in my last post) would have a time element to it too.
Let’s take a “for instance”. Say I was taking a city break and I wanted to know what events were going on in that city while I was there; I might pull a Gig application onto my map as well as an app that shows me sporting events in the area. Those two would show me plenty of gigs and sporting events but I’m only interested in the ones that are going on while I’m there, I couldn’t give a stuff about the rest of them. Hence what is needed is a way for us to define a time period in addition to the geographical area; moreover I should only have to specify it once and allow multiple applications to make use of it.
Google have just released a new version of their Google Maps for Mobile product and its got a feature that I’ve been yearning after for a very very long time, namely the ability to sync information that you capture from their website onto your mobile phone. It is best explained in their own words:
Google Maps for mobile has long allowed you to add stars on a map to mark your favorite places. Unfortunately, there was no way to keep these starred places in sync with Google Maps on your phone. With today’s release of Google Maps for mobile 3.3 on Windows Mobile and Symbian phones, you’ll now be able to keep the starred places on your phone and on your computer completely synchronized
Fantastic feature! If you have a Windows or Symbian Phone go and grab it from http://www.google.com/mobile/products/maps.html#p=default
So, Google keep innovating with their mobile maps product and continue to leave Microsoft eating their dirt. How telling it is that in the week where Google release my most requested feature for their mobile mapping product Microsoft release a version of Bing for Mobile that they claim is now freely available (see: http://discoverbing.com/mobile/) but actually is not. I’ve tried following their download instructions but each time I get the old version, not the new one.
Never mind, at least Google know how to build and deliver a decent product.
I’m sure that most of you reading this will know that Bing Maps released a new beta site yesterday that uses Silverlight to provide a fantastic map viewing experience including a really quite stunning experience called StreetSide.I must say, I’ve been expecting and waiting for this for a long long time now as I blogged about it back in July 2008 and followed up again in June of this year with:
there hasn’t been in any new moves from Microsoft in the 3D arena but the lack of news has not dampened my conviction that they are planning something big in the not too distant future
So, I’m delighted that these features that have been alluded to for some considerable time now have finally seen the light of day. My friend Mark Mann has an excellent expose of all the features over at his blog in case you’re interested, go check it out.
What I really wanted to talk about though was a new feature they have introduced called apps:
Apps are little “programs” (for want of a better word) that add data onto a map, there are apps for hotels, webcams, traffic cameras, local news and various other things. What I find fantastically compelling about this though is that they open up the ability for 3rd parties to provide apps through Bing Maps.
Stop and think about that for a minute. I’m sure many of you are familiar with layers in Google Earth, right? Well imagine if anyone could add their own custom layers to maps and they could show up for other people to use at http://maps.bing.com. There are some fantastic possibilities for this and here are a few ideas that have sprung to my mind:
- Rightmove.co.uk could provide an app that enables you to view houses for sale in a certain area. The real beauty of this is that rival websites would hopefully be driven to provide the same thing and then we could do something we can’t do today – compare houses from different providers on the same map. Very cool indeed.
- Ticketmaster could provide an app that shows all upcoming concerts in an area
- The Post Office could provide an app that shows where all their post offices and letterboxes are located
Will we see the rise of the phrase “there’s a geo-app for that”?
There’s so much data out there that has some aspect of geo-location – we now have a platform where all that data can be harnessed and presented to us for our consuming pleasure. I only hope that the 3rd parties jump on board. Do you have any ideas for apps that people could build?
Can you tell I’m excited about this?