Bing Maps

You may not know this, but Microsoft has actually overhauled their Maps app for Windows Phone with the 8.1 release. The reason you may not be aware is due to the majority of you using Lumias. Nokia has their HERE Maps application, which prioritizes over Microsoft’s Maps. But with the Preview being available, Microsoft’s Maps app is once again back on the Apps list (if not, you can use third-party apps to re-create the shortcut).

So what’s new in Maps for 8.1? There are quite a few features, which we’ll discuss below, including how best to use them!

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A new page has been added to the annals of the bitter rivalry between Microsoft and Google. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, a top engineer at Microsoft, will be leaving after seven years to work on machine learning at Google. Agüera y Arcas first joined Microsoft as a software architect when his company, Seadragon Software, was acquired by them. Since that time, he has been a major player in developing Bing Maps and Microsoft's Photosynth image software.

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You're going to get behind the wheel? No, you want to catch the bus? Hold it, dear chap! Instead, since it's Mobile Nations Fitness Month, why don't you make use of the pedestrian functionality in the Windows Phone Maps app? Stretch those legs, turn up the beats and introduce your favourite swagger to the unexpected public.

There's nothing like a casual stroll on a Friday afternoon, right? Planning a walking route is an easy feature to overlook when not used on a regular basis but it is a simple feature to make use of.  A feature that will help you get to and from your destination and burn a few calories along the way.

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Recently on the Windows Phone Central Podcast we were lamenting how Nokia Maps leaves a lot to be desired on Windows Phone 8. The app is a bit slow, the UI is not as intuitive and some of the information (like traffic) is hit or miss. Most people would suggest using Bing Maps (aka the native Maps application) instead but unfortunately, Nokia has removed the hard link for that app leaving users no choice on Windows Phone 8 Lumias.

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Nokia have just announced an update on how they are progressing with their Destination Maps product. The aim with the initiative is to provide an additional layer of mapping data where it makes sense. In this case Nokia are essentially aiming for Shopping Malls, Airports and other large scale public spaces. The rate at which they are adding these internal spaces is impressive, now boasting 4605 venues in 38 countries. 

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It was a few weeks ago when Nokia and Microsoft announced that Bing Maps would be getting a bit of a backend overhaul. Specifically in two areas: new color codes for traffic and more detail on back roads.

Perhaps even more importantly, some countries which previously didn't have access to mapping data would be getting the feature in a timed rollout. All in all, 24 countries were being added to the list including Italy and the UK.

We can at least verify that those latter two now have traffic as an option on their devices. Users can simply launch Maps and tap the three-dots on the lower menu. There, the "enable traffic" option should now be available.

It's great to see such a feature comes to other regions as it's something many of us have taken for granted since Windows Phone 7 came out in 2010. If you've noticed traffic added to any of these other countries, sound off in comments: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland or UAE.

via: Plaffo; Thanks Andrew, James, for UK info

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Today Nokia has announced that their mapping data, specifically traffic info and geocoding ability (more on that in a bit) is powering Microsoft's Bing Mapping services. While this collaboration has been in the works since the Nokia-Microsoft partnership was announced, we're now seeing the results of it.

In short, if you launch your Bing Maps (either on the web or your Windows Phone) and enable Traffic, you'll notice two things right away:

  1. New color codes - green, yellow and red (maybe black?)
  2. More detail - Where once only major roads have it, now we're seeing our local streets with live traffic data

Nokia is now offering what was before only available in their Nokia Maps app to everyone who uses Bing. What's more, that info is available in 24 countries including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK and US.

Besides traffic, there's also geocoding which is something that's very important and here's why: geocoding algorithms take latitude and longitude information and connect them to a "readable address"--basically that whole ability to translate your GPS coordinates into a usable street number and name. Many apps use it, including what powers Foursquare or any app that sends your location e.g. WhatsApp. In theory now, it should be more accurate and help with directions too.

All in all this is great news for everyone on Windows Phone and anyone who uses Bing. We're looking forward to more of this Nokia-Microsoft partnership.

Read more at Nokia Conversations

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Ah, we always loves these cool little projects for Windows Phone enthusiasts.

Take this case where, as our title says, 28 separate Windows Phones were linked together and controlled by one phone using Bing Maps. As a result, when you scroll at the one Windows Phone, you'll move the map on those 28 screens at the same time. What's it called? How about "Bi(n)g Maps", eh?

Who was behind such mayhem? Why it's Rudy Huyn, the man behind the super popular Windows Phone apps TVShow, Fuse and MyEncyclopedia, of course.

Useful? Not really. Ingenious and clever? Definitely. (See the similar 144-screens linked together for a world-record here)

Source: Rudy Huyn; Check out another video with a different angle after the break...

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It was only late last year that we covered the news of Chaos Created, a UK based studio, asking for volunteers in and around London to dress up as zombies and act out in footage for their upcoming Windows Phone title, Zombies Ate My City. The game has now been released onto the Marketplace and is available for... wait for it... absolutely nothing ($0 / £0).

So what is Zombies Ate My City all about? It's a 'transmedia' title that is part movie, part game, part augmented reality and part location discovery. A real mixup, which is unique to Windows Phone and is also a platform exclusive. You're tasked with heading to different locations using Bing Maps, much like Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, and defend the area from zombies. Achievements are unlock-able as well as more powerful weaponry.

Windows Phone UK caught up with Ali Maggs, co-creator and programmer of the game:

"It was important to us to take advantage of Windows Phone’s software, weaving the game’s storyline around the capabilities of the platform.  Windows Phone is perfect for us because all the phones out there have the same capabilities.

One of the things we will be doing in the Summer is building out a web based app, built on Bing maps, that will allow users to unlock new locations, such as landmarks, for Windows Phone players to then discover and defend.  We want to make the experience as transmedia as possible, where we tell different parts of the story on different platforms in different ways."

You can download Zombies Ate My City from the Marketplace for absolutely nothing at all. While the game itself is free, should you wish to support further development then be sure to check out the ZAMC Theme Pack app that contains a handful of ringtones and wallpapers for £0.79 ($0.99).

Via: Windows Phone UK

          

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Nokia has updated the colour palette for their mapping service and this change has been reflected through Microsoft's Bing with the partnership between the two companies. The alterations are to make the browsing experience easier and more aesthetically pleasing with improved typography, colours and less obstructive icons. The above image illustrates the change with the new version of Bing Maps on the left.

While these changes are present on the web versions of both Nokia and Bing Maps, Windows Phone owners will be able to witness the improvements in the official apps. Note that Nokia Drive wont be updated with the new look for a week or two.

What do you make of said changes?

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Pocket-lint has learned from an interview with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, that the manufacturer will be having its branding stamped on Bing Maps in the near future. It doesn't matter what device you're accessing the maps from, you'll see "Nokia" on-screen. RIM has stated they'll be using Bing Maps on their Blackberry smartphones, so it's some free competitor exposure for the Windows Phone OEM.

"You'll starting seeing the word 'Nokia' on a map that you get from Microsoft properties over a period of time. Even if you are on a BlackBerry device, who recently said they were going to start using Bing Maps."

The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft is set to go deeper with the Finnish handset maker carrying out more work for the software giant, as Elop explains:

"In the time ahead, what you will see is, across all the Microsoft properties including Bing maps, more and more work will be done by Nokia. We did that for important reasons as we had the better mapping assets so it made sense. But it also creates some balance in the relationship with Microsoft."

Nokia has already been busy helping Microsoft with Bing Streetside (analogous to Google Street View), so it'll be interesting to see what 2012 brings for the two companies in terms of product collaboration - like possibly helping keep pedestrians safe while walking?

Source: Pocket-lint

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Microsoft has been granted a patent that would use location-based services to help keep pedestrians safe.  The “pedestrian route production” technology will “construct a direction set that allows the user to take paths that take him to his home in a quickest amount of time while keeping the user relatively safe (e.g., taking the user through neighborhoods with violent crime statistics below a certain threshold).”  This means that based on crime statistics, unsafe weather reports, etc., the service will create a route that will maximize their chances of getting to their destination unscathed.  The routes will also be customized based on a user's tolerance for such risk based on historical data.  So if you think you're a tough guy, the service will give you the opportunity to prove it.

The patent comes without any detail from Microsoft as to how or when they will use it.  Presumably, this technology would be incorporated into Bing Maps or similar applications.  If so, it would be the first mapping utility to offer such services to users.

Source: TFTS; Thanks to Sohaib for the Tip!

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It's always kind of cool when Microsoft updates that back-end of Bing Maps because you don't need to, you know, do anything. Sure, it's not better voice-navigation nor Ovi Maps, but the changes are not exactly subtle either. Instead, what we have in the mobile version of Bing Maps more closely matching the desktop version.

Most of the changes deal with the color scheme of roads, with purple denoting major highways, blue secondary roads and grey for back roads. Text looks a bit easier to read and perhaps its just us, but the app seems to handle downloading and caching maps a lot easier, resulting in faster scrolling. Other than that, we're not noticing too much else but we're betting this may be a regional thing too.

Shout out in comments if you noticing anything and we'll add it.

Source: MobileTechWorld; via Pocketnow

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A superb thread has been created over at our forums by Tiny, where he goes into detail about his 32 hour drive across the U.S. As you can see in the map above, the blue line is Google and the red representing Bing. While both services providing the same directions, Bing took two diversions, thus making him choose Google with more trust for the first part of the journey.

At the start Bing calculated a route via Utah, which seems longer than the more direct route of Google. Turns out, even though the number of miles with Google was a smaller amount, the time saved (if any) was minimal due to sped restrictions and construction delays.

Bing didn't stop there with calculated issue prevention. Iowa, instead of Missouri, was chosen by Bing approximately half-way through the journey while Google remained on track with the direct approach. Although a warning was present that some roads may be closed, no alternative route was provided by Google. Following Bing would prove to be less trouble and more smooth.

For the rest of the journey and some final thoughts, head on past the break. 

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Indoor Bing maps on Mango

Another awesome feature (should it be gradually made available for users globally) that has come to light is indoor Bing maps on Mango. Thinking about going to a nearby shopping mall, but can't be bothered to visit the website and check the map? Soon your Windows Phone might be able to lend you a helping hand.

Mango will feature Bing indoor maps so users can view the insides of locations and buildings - stores in a shopping mall for example. Unfortunately this is still in apparent early stages, but I can't think of another smartphone off the top of my head that features this unique functionality. There's also a button in the top-right corner that allows you to switch between levels in multi-story buildings/locations.

Here are some indoor maps that Microsoft has added to the desktop version of Bing maps. What do you guys think of this feature? Neat, eh?

Source: PocketNow

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WP7 and Bing Maps saves lives

Martin Tirion, User Experience Evangelist at Microsoft, has recently published an article that goes into detail about how Windows Phone 7 and Bing Maps saved his life on a boat trip that went horribly wrong. Cutting a long story short; Martin was on a small rental boat in Greece, where due to poor navigation, instructions, navigational equipment and readiness, was stranded at an unknown location.

Calling back to the rental agency, they attempted to search for the stranded boat but failed to find anything after approximately four hours. With waves increasing in strength and the possibility of a large ship passing by creating more dangerous currents, Martin attempted again after the four hours out at sea to use Bing Maps and attempt a GPS pin-point location. It finally worked over GPRS.

He was then able to relay the information onto the boat rental agency and they were able to rescue him. It seemed that in reality the distance between his human guesswork and satellite accuracy was huge (illustrated in the map above). WP7 and Bing saves the day!

Our George Ponder posted his experience with how WP7 aided him amidst the aftermath of the awful tornadoes the US recently laid host to. We've also seen how the "Find My Phone" feature as stopped some golf club theft. Have you got a life changing story involving your WP7 device?

Source: Martin Tirion's Blog

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National Geographic World Atlas - Review

We’ve looked at dictionaries before, but the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace offers other reference applications as well. National Geographic World Atlas is one such program aimed at geography students and enthusiasts. And who doesn’t like learning about far away lands or the shape of the world?

National Geographic is one of the largest educational institutions in the existence. Does the mobile World Atlas live up to their usual high standards? Read on past the break to find out.

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Now here's a bold challenge: Joost van Schaik has demonstrated how easy it is to code Google Maps into a Windows Phone 7 application (taking advantage of Bing Map Control to do so; The image above is a Google Map satellite layer on top the Street layer, done with actual coding).

He dares Google to make a Google Maps application, suggesting if they don't, someone else will and they'll do it quickly.

While the rest of the post is coding-nerd material, the gist is obvious: Google Maps, if that's your thing*, should come to Windows Phone 7 by choice or by force. So which will it be Google?

* Yeah, I know. Who would want to use Google Maps when Bing kicks so much butt? Actually, the one pro for Google doing something official is the promise of Latitude/Buzz, which Microsoft still needs a competitive solution for...

Source: .NET by Example; via @SilverlightNews

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