Map Apps is a growing collection of tools that expand the capabilities of Bing Maps; some — like the Taxi Fare Calculator and Parking Finder — are extremely functional and useful to all, while others appeal to a more limited audience. (Roadside Sculptures, anyone?) Together, the Map Apps helped give Bing Maps what we’ve previously called the cool crown here on Search Engine Land.
But Map Apps were never easy to find; Bing, for some reason, had hidden them away on an “Explore” page — it wasn’t obvious how to find them and required an extra click to get there.
The new Bing Maps interface, though, puts Map Apps front and center, exposing them to all users right from the home page; they’re the fourth and final link in the new, left-side menu bar below “Get Directions,” “View Traffic,” and “View Businesses.” (Note: You will not see the new links if you don’t have Silverlight installed.)
That’s not the only change, and at least one other change is pretty dramatic: Bing has moved the map controls, which typically appear inside the map on most other sites, either in the upper right or left corner. On the new Bing Maps interface, though, the controls are spaced out along the top, outside the map.
The final Bing Maps update involves the rollout of an “enhanced” Bird’s Eye view, which shows some synthetic building models and includes both the Bird’s Eye 45-degree angle view, as well as standard top-down aerial views.
Postscript: Bing says they’re fixing a bug that may prevent some Chrome/Firefox users on the Mac from accessing the new interface. They also tell us that the following browsers are/are not supported:
Supported: IE, FF, Chrome on PC / Chrome, FF on Mac
Unsupported: Opera, Safari on PC / IE, Opera, Safari on Mac