All posts tagged ‘Bing’

File Under: Location, Web Apps

Microsoft Adds OpenStreetMap Layer to Bing Maps

You can now turn on a special layer in Bing Maps that displays maps from OpenStreetMap, Microsoft has announced.

OpenStreetMap is an open source mapping project that keeps an editable map of the entire globe. Anyone can make edits to the map — it’s been nicknamed the “Wikipedia of maps.” The open source model has proven especially effective in regions of the developing world where very little solid map data exists, and in areas where highly detailed, editable maps are critical for natural-disaster response efforts, like the recent Haiti earthquake.

Microsoft’s adoption of the open source mapping project follows a similar move by MapQuest, which began adding OSM layers last month.

To run layers in Bing Maps, you’ll need the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight and a supported browser. It doesn’t work properly in Google Chrome (at least on the Mac), but IE8, Firefox and Safari had no problems. If you’re using the Ajax controls to view Bing Maps (instead of Silverlight), then you won’t be able to see the OpenStreetMaps layer, but Microsoft says this is something that may make its way into the non-Silverlight version eventually.

Use the map view switcher at the bottom to change layers.

To add OpenStreetMaps to your Bing, go to the App Gallery. Look for the new OpenStreetMaps app in the gallery. Click on it, and your alternative OpenStreetMaps view should launch within Bing Maps.

You can switch back to any of the other standard views in Bing Maps by clicking on the layer control at the bottom of the map window. You’ll notice Bing Maps is using the Mapnik build of OpenStreetMaps for its map layer. You can switch back and forth between the OSM layer and any of the other standard Bing maps layers using the same control.

Microsoft has been quickly adding some innovative features to Bing, especially on its Maps website. In June, Bing Maps added the ability to browse parts of the world in 3-D, and in February it demonstrated indoor panorama views and location-specific videos that are accessible within Bing’s street-side imagery.

Microsoft also ran its King of Bing maps challenge for developers last month, asking them to create innovative apps for the mapping platform. For the contest, a developer named Ricky Brundritt built an app for Bing Maps that estimates your taxi fare within most major U.S. cities.

However, Bing’s reliance on Microsoft’s proprietary Silverlight technology to power these innovations is seen by some as an alienating factor — and an unnecessary one at that, since other mapping platforms like Google Maps accomplish much of the same functionality using JavaScript and other web standards. This is especially important on mobile devices, where the most popular browsers don’t allow for plug-ins like SIlverlight.

Still, it’s heartening to see Bing adding to the momentum OpenStreetMaps is currently enjoying. Anyone can edit the OSM maps, and now that the project is getting some attention — thanks mostly to its efforts in Haiti — edits are coming in more quickly.

According to the latest stats, the project has over a quarter of a million participants and over 1.8 billion uploaded GPS points. Dedicated users are getting creative and finding ways to add even more detail to the existing maps by doing offbeat things like tagging wheelchair ramps, mailboxes and trees in their neighborhoods.

Taxi Fare Calculator link courtesy Mashable

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File Under: Location

Bing Maps Gets a Developer SDK

Microsoft may be a few lengths back in the race to win the online mapping prize, but you can never count Redmond out. The company released an SDK for Bing Maps on Monday, allowing developers to create their own Map Apps for submission into Bing Map Apps gallery (Silverlight is required for that link).

When Microsoft first launched the Bing Map Apps gallery (say that three times fast) a few months ago, it featured interesting geodata mashups from partners like Foursquare, Twitter, Weather.com and TrafficLand.com. These maps provide one or more data layers over whatever map you’re currently looking at, so you can see things like restaurant reviews, geo-tagged tweets, weather camera images and temperature readings or traffic cams. My favorite is the Urban Graffiti tracker from virtualglobetrotting.com which pinpoints places where you can see some cool street art.

Now, anyone can make one of these apps. With the new SDK, developers can create their own geodata overlays using any data set they can get their hands on, then submit their creations to the Map Apps gallery. Microsoft will feature the best submissions and present them to everyone using the Bing search tool. The company says it will also allow advertising in the Map Apps and split the revenue with the creators. There’s a testing tool included in the launch.

The goal of Monday’s release appears to be two-fold: increase interest in Bing Maps, and speed adoption of Silverlight 4, the latest version of Microsoft’s rich media and streaming video platform, and it’s alternative to Adobe Flash.

Everything built with this SDK needs to be done in Silverlight 4. You’ll also need the Silverlight plug-in to view any of Bing’s mapping features — at least version 3 is required for the bing.com/maps website.

It’s a bit of a shame that Microsoft has so deeply baked Silverlight into the Bing maps experience while others — most notably, Google and OpenStreetMap — have managed to create rich, interactive maps using HTML, JavaScript and CSS. But one can’t blame Microsoft for trying to popularize Silverlight at a time when the web is starting to move away from Flash as the de facto standard for presenting rich content in the browser. Even though most of the momentum is going into HTML5, CSS 3 and other open standards, Silverlight stands a chance to win some ground.

Silverlight is currently installed on around 60-65 percent of internet-enabled PCs. Around half of Silverlight’s users are running version 3, with around seven percent running version 4, according to riastats.com.

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File Under: Social, Web Services

Bing Is in Your Facebook, Indexing Your Status

Facebook’s Twitter envy is showing again; the site recently announced a deal with Microsoft that will see public Facebook statuses indexed by a search engine for the first time. Although users sticking with Facebook’s default privacy settings won’t be affected, the move clearly shows Facebook moving beyond its closed, walled-garden beginnings.

Twitter’s success has clearly shaped several of Facebook’s recent changes, including the move to real-time updates and the acquisition of FriendFeed, but this latest development — turning over Facebook’s walled data to a search engine — goes well beyond earlier moves.

Part of Facebook’s appeal for many is precisely its walled-garden aspect. Sharing information on Facebook is a much more private, limited experience than with public services like Twitter, where anyone, friend or otherwise can see what you post. But Facebook’s new deal with Bing, which comes close on the heals of Bing’s similar indexing plan for Twitter, will change that.

If the idea of your status messages finding their way into search engine indexes fills you with horror, there’s no need for alarm, only Facebook profiles set to “everyone” will be indexed. Since changing your privacy settings to “everyone” requires a trip to Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Profile, presumably only those that truly want their profiles public will be affected.

Facebook’s own terms of service also prevent outside applications from caching any user data, which means Bing’s indexing will likely be very ephemeral — don’t expect deep time-based searches or cached pages.

So if most users stick with the default privacy settings and Bing can’t cache the results, who does benefit from the new deal?

Earlier this year, Facebook announced “fan pages” for products and brands that wanted a presence on the site, but for whom a traditional account would not have worked. It’s precisely this segment of Facebook’s population that will likely be most excited about the new Bing search deal. Brands and celebrity users already heavily invested in a Facebook presence will see that presence now available to the world at large thanks to Bing’s indexing plan.

At the moment the Facebook integration is just an announcement, but if the end result is anything like the Twitter integration in Bing (which is already live), expect the focus to be on links and whatever the buzzwords of the moment happen to be.

How much value Facebook’s status updates will add to Bing’s search results remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, Bing finally has some data Google doesn’t. Unlike Wednesday’s Bing/Twitter deal, which was quickly mirrored by a similar announcement from Google, thus far, Facebook and Google have shown each other no love.

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