Microsoft added a range of new features to Live Search Maps, including Firefox support for Virtual Earth 3D. Some of the new capabilities are live right now, and some are going live later today. Below is a list of the new tools and features and their descriptions from the distributed press materials.
Firefox support: Previously, 3D functionality for Live Search Maps was only available on IE. With this update, customers in the US who use Firefox as their web browsers will be able to enjoy the immersive 3D mapping experience available with Live Search Maps.
Updated 3D cities: With this update, 16 additional cities will be available with 3D buildings including San Diego, CA and Portland, OR. The 3D functionality is also now available in five cities in the UK including Plymouth, Cardiff, Bristol, Gloucester, and Wolverhampton.
Ratings and Reviews for Business listings: Live Search Maps customers now have the ability to view ratings and reviews of hundreds of thousands of businesses in the US, provided by third party sites and Live Search Maps customers.
RSS collections feeds: Customers are now able to subscribe to a Live Search Maps collection and their RSS reader will automatically receive any updates that are made to that collection.
Traffic conditions: Our real time traffic feature is automatically presented as an overlay when directions are displayed, providing our customers with relevant information they can act on without the need for an extra step.
Instant Answers Maps feature: For Live Search queries with “local intent”, customers will now be presented with the picture of a map, embedded into their traditional search results. For example, if you type in Las Vegas in the Live Search bar, a map of Las Vegas will be included at the top of your Live Search results.
The Firefox support is a welcome addition as are ratings and reviews, which was a deficiency in the product previously. The Collections feeds addition is also very interesting. Collections are user-generated maps/mashups (e.g., “biking trails, Seattle”) that individuals have built and now, if public, may be subscribed to. I was told that the Collections feed would appear on users’ Live.com homepages.